Uganda Takes Over Nile Basin Initiative Leadership

Minister Cheptoris in Cream suit with Sylvester Matemu, NBI outgoing Executive Director. PHOTO/COURTESY

Kampala, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | Uganda has assumed leadership of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) during the 31st Nile Council of Ministers Meeting (NILECOM) in Kampala, taking over from Tanzania, which led the organization for the previous year.

To secure this leadership role, Uganda cleared its subscription arrears just one day before the meeting. It’s worth noting that Uganda hosts the NBI secretariat, which unites all ten nations within the Nile River basin. Sylvester Matemu, the outgoing NBI Executive Director, initiated Uganda’s nomination, supported by South Sudan and seconded by Rwanda, DR Congo, and Sudan, with no objections from any country.

Uganda previously chaired the NILECOM in 2016. During the same meeting, Tanzania was elected as the English-language rapporteur, while Burundi was chosen as the French-language rapporteur. The NILECOM is a crucial precursor to the upcoming Nile Basin Development Forum (NBDF), now in its 7th edition, commencing at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala.

The responsibilities of the NBI leader encompass ensuring adherence to NBI agreement protocols by all members, promoting cooperation and consensus, ensuring the sustainable use of the Nile River, and monitoring the implementation of agreed-upon initiatives.

In his acceptance speech, Sam Cheptoris, Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment, emphasized Uganda’s previous NILECOM leadership achievements, which included convening the first-ever Nile Basin Heads of State meeting. He also underlined Uganda’s dedication to addressing challenges that might disrupt cooperation among NBI members. He pledged to continue engaging with Egypt to promote unity within the NBI, especially in the face of pressing issues like climate change.

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Hani Sewilam, the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation for Egypt, acknowledged Egypt’s instrumental role in founding the Nile Basin Initiative. He stressed the significance of cooperation and a shared vision among Nile Basin nations and expressed hope for a return to inclusive collaboration and genuine consensus for the collective benefit of all regional populations. Egypt is ready to collaborate with other countries under Uganda’s leadership, provided the organization adheres to its originally agreed principles. However, due to present divisions from the agreed decision-making procedures by consensus, Sewilam regretfully noted that they were unable to adopt the agenda items and their outcomes.

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