The 28th annual meeting of the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) was held today November 12, 2020 under the new chairperson, Hon Dr Mujawamariya Jeanne d'Arc, the Minister of Environment in Rwanda.
The Nile-COM, comprised of Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the 10 Member States, is the highest political and decision making body of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).
The outgoing chairperson Hon Sicily K. Kariuki (EGH), who is also Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation underscored the importance of NBI’s 10-year Strategy (2017 – 2027) “in the achievement of our core objectives and in realisation of our Shared Vision Objective.” She added that this is because the Strategy provides clear linkages between the key development goals of water, food, energy as well as environment and focuses on win-win harnessing of our natural resources.
The Executive Director of the NBI Secretariat, Prof Seifeldin Hamad Abdalla, noted that while the pandemic had disrupted implementation of many of the Secretariat’s activities, the organisation embraced the new normal, implementing activities virtually as much as possible. “A case in point is the launch of implementation of the new five–year project on enhancing conjunctive management of surface and groundwater resources in Nile Basin.”
The ministers approved the Secretariat’s annual work plan and budget for the Financial Year July 2020/June 2021.
The meeting directed the Secretariat to advance in its efforts to apply its tools and analysis developed in enabling Member States to respond to climate change, such as the current floods experienced in many parts of the Basin.
On the issue of the second Nile Basin Heads of State Summit, the Ministers provided strategic guidance on plans towards its successful implementation.
Speaking on behalf of NBI’s Development Partners, Ms Catherine Tovey, Water Practice Manager, Africa East at the World Bank, noted the improved environment for cooperative investment projects in the Nile Basin. She highlighted the 80 MW Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric project jointly implemented by Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania as a good example.
In the context of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the efforts to prevent its spread, the meeting was held virtually to ensure the health and safety of all parties.
The 28th Nile-COM meeting was attended by Minsters in charge of Water Affairs from NBI Member States, members of the Nile Technical Advisory Committee, representatives of development partners and the Nile Basin Discourse as well as management and staff of NBI.