South Sudan and Egypt have signed agreements worth $26.6 million to launch water and technical development projects in South Sudan, a high-ranking official in President Salva Kiir’s office has said.
The deals were signed last week during a visit by Mr. Kiir to Cairo, Awan Riak, the Minister in the Office of the President, told reporters.
Minister of Water Resources Hossam al-Moghazi signed the agreement for Egypt and South Sudan Minister of Electricity and Dams Jima Tono Komba signed for her country, the Egyptian information agency said.
Several businessmen who were also part of Mr. Kiir’s entourage met with their Egyptian counterparts and agreed on numerous other projects, covering, “… the areas of water, electricity, education, youth and sport, petroleum and … health,” Riak said.
“It was a very successful visit and both countries are looking to close their ties together to benefit from the expertise of one another and also the resources that are in our country,” he said.
Nile Basin Initiative
South Sudan and Egypt are members of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), which brings together nations connected by the Nile River. Others members of NBI are Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.
Egypt is at loggerheads with Ethiopia over the construction of a dam that Egypt says would dramatically reduce the volume of Nile River water that flows into Egypt. Tens of millions of Egyptians depend on the Nile for almost all of their water needs.
Riak said Mr. Kiir and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held one-on-one talks during the South Sudanese president’s visit. Among the topics that came up for discussion were the Ethiopian dam project and its potential impact on NBI member states, Riak said.
Egypt says that, under a 1929 deal crafted by colonial Britain and amended in 1959, it is entitled to two-thirds of the Nile’s waters. Another quarter is allocated to Sudan, and the rest is divided up between the other countries that use the waters of the Nile. Many of those countries say the British agreement is unfairly weighted in Egypt’s favor.
*Originally published on VOA on November 24, 2014