River Nile is arguably the greatest river in the world, not just by its superior length but also because of its contribution to human civilization.
Although the recent history of the Nile river is punctuated with bitter quarrels among member states, majority of the 11 countries that make up the Nile Basin, have in recent years agreed to come to the same table not only to resolve disputes but also work out a plan for a harmonized development of the basin.
It was under this spirit of unity that 22 years ago, the countries agreed to formalize their cooperation by establishing the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) as an institution that would try to organize activities aimed at facilitating cooperation among member states.
And every 22nd day of February, all member countries hold celebrations to commemorate the historic event. During such events, themes bordering on cooperation and unity as the preferred option to achieve peaceful and sustainable development, are championed and promoted.
The celebrations are also used as a constant reminder of the inevitability of cooperation in the development of the basin since the Nile river does not choose its path, nor did the people choose to be part of the basin.
Uganda is hosting this year’s regional Nile Day celebrations.
The occasion is also used by Member States to re-affirm their commitment to Nile Cooperation.
This is in addition to enhancing stakeholders’ appreciation of the importance of and commitment to Nile Cooperation while at the same time enhancing awareness of the results and visibility of NBI.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, this year’s celebrations will be held virtually.
This will likely take away the fanfare and celebratory atmosphere characterized by cultural and dresses that capture the rich diversity of the people of the Nile Basin.
The virtual discussion will run under the banner: “Rethinking Regional Investments in the Nile Basin”
Prof. Seifeldin Hamad Abdalla, the Executive Director of NBI secretariat says previous efforts in cooperation have attracted investments worth more than US$6.5 billion in form of donations and loans to implement different projects.
The ongoing construction of a 8MW Rusumo hydropower dam on river Kagera at a border point to supply power to people who desperately needed it in the three countries of Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, illustrates the power of cooperation.
Other sectors that have benefitted from cooperation include power transmission interconnection and trade; irrigation and drainage; lake environment management; integrated sub-basin/catchment/watershed management; fisheries; water resources development; flood protection and early warning among others.