Remarks H.E. Dr Hailemichael Aberra Afework at the 12th Nile Day celebrations in London

26 Feb 2018

LONDON – February 22, 2018 

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Your Excellencies, High Commissioners, Ambassadors

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government and peoples of Ethiopia, let me begin by welcoming you all to our commemoration of the 12th Nile Day, here in London.

Ethiopia and its people, as hosts of this year’s celebrations, take great pride in marking this important day in the Basin’s calendar – a day on which the leaders of our great nations, namely, in alphabetical order, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, the Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, definitively chose dialogue over distrust, interdependence over isolation and cooperation over conflict.

By establishing the Nile Basin Initiative on this day in 1999, our countries opened a new chapter in the storied history of our great river – vowing to develop, manage, protect and conserve the shared water resources of the Nile on the basis of a “shared vision”.

This vision – which expresses our collective desire to “achieve sustainable socio-economic development through the equitable utilisation of, and benefit from,” our shared Nile water resources – is, amongst many other things, that we are gathered here to renew, on this day.

As you know, our compatriots in Addis Ababa have spent today colourfully celebrating Nile Day under the theme “Shared River, Collective Action”. This year’s theme traces a direct line back, almost two decades, to the establishment of the NBI in 1999 –  capturing its raison d’etre while underlining the work that still remains to be done.

With rising demand for the finite waters of the Nile, accelerated by high rates of economic growth, urbanisation and population growth, our watersheds are facing increasing degradation and abuse. Climate change, not of our own making, continues to loom over our Basin, afflicting us with more frequent droughts and floods as well as the effects of desertification, while inhibiting our ability to effectively plan for our future.

In light of these challenges, the need for greater cooperation, basin-wide planning and a legal regime governing the river in its entirety, could not be clearer. With the uncertainty hanging over the Basin, a ray of hope lies in the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement, whose 10-year negotiations concluded in 2010. Although we have not all agreed on its finer details, this should not prevent us from working together for the sake of our people and it remains our firm belief that it will only be a matter of time before the remaining countries re-join the NBI family.

As illustrated by the words of my Minister of Water Dr Sileshi Bekele, in the last few days, “the Nile is the umbilical cord that connects and nourishes us all”. So, on this day, let us raise a toast and affirm once more our commitments to one another and assert that cooperation on this great river, is not an option, but an existential imperative.

*Toasts* Here’s to the NBI, and the people and nations of the Nile Basin!

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