Your Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda,
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government of the Nile Basin Countries,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of Delegation,
Allow me at the outset to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to my dear brother, President Yoweri Museveni and to the brotherly people of Uganda for their gracious reception and generous hospitality ...Allow me to convey to you, Mr. President, and to all the leaders and peoples of the Nile Basin countries a message of appreciation and respect from the people of Egypt. Egyptians have always cherished their African roots, their belonging to this great continent - the cradle of human civilizations- and the River Nile, the artery of life and their bond to the peoples of the Nile basin throughout history.
On this occasion, I would also like to convey the people of Egypt's support for all the efforts to promote stability, peace and development in the Nile basin region. I reaffirm our commitment to working together to achieve the peace and prosperity that our region and peoples deserve.
My brother President Museveni,
Your invitation to convene the first Summit of the Heads of State of the Nile Basin Countries and our participation in this summit, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of cooperation between the Nile Basin states, is undoubtedly a historic event. It is a clear message to our peoples and to everyone following this summit that the River Nile unites and does not divide us, and that our common interest in benefiting from our natural and human resources to build and develop our societies far outweighs any differences that have held us hostage and restrained our potential for decades. Now, more than ever, the Nile basin countries need to pursue cooperation to achieve genuine sustainable development that seeks to provide our peoples with a decent standard of living, enable them to confront the impacts of water scarcity and climate change, and unleash their potential.
Ever since President Museveni announced his intention to convene this important summit, I was the first to welcome the invitation. I personally believe in the importance of this event and I state Egypt's commitment to conveying a sincere and genuine message to all the peoples of the Nile basin. It is a message of reassurance of Egypt's full awareness of the developmental needs of the peoples of Nile basin countries. Egypt continues today, as it has always been at the forefront of supporting our common African struggle against colonialism, to stand with all its capabilities in the struggle to achieve development, modernization as well as for the consolidation of peace and stability in the Nile Basin region and our African continent.
Brothers and Sisters
Egypt contributed along with its brothers in the Nile Basin, to the establishment of the Nile Basin Initiative in 1999 with the aim of strengthening cooperation in order to achieve and protect our common interests and objectives. The NBI has accomplished important achievements over the past years, including enhancing our capacity to cooperate and work together to achieve mutual gains and avoid harm to any party.
It is important to point out that transboundary water resources present special circumstances that warrant our attention, particularly the extent to which the States sharing the water resource can work together to optimize its utilization, avoid conflict over its use, and determine fair rules to govern each country's uses. The principles and rules of the law of non-navigational uses of international watercourses, and the practice of international river commissions in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe present many successful precedents that reflect the ability of riparian countries to maximize common gains and avoid harm to any party.
You may agree with me that our common interest requires us to intensify our cooperation and partnership in many areas, such as economic integration, trade, investment, mining, agricultural development, agro-industry, energy, water resources management, health care, training, capacity-building and other areas of comprehensive development that are of high priority for our peoples and societies. I am confident that our countries have the potential to move forward towards that partnership and to achieve further integration, within a framework that is sustainable and effective in keeping up with the demands and challenges of the present.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The great River Nile binds Egypt with its sisters and brothers. More than 1,600 billion cubic meters of rainwater fall on its basin annually. Part of this water is widely used in rain-fed agriculture, forestry and livestock production in the upstream countries, while only 84 billion cubic meters flow into the river, hundreds of billions of cubic meters of water are wasted due to inadequate investment in infrastructure that is required in order to maximize the beneficial use of water in all aspects of economic and social development in our countries.
As you all know, the River Nile is the principal source of water in Egypt, on which we depend for 97% of our water, given the limited availability of other water resources. With the natural growth of Egypt's population, the rate of per capita water consumption has fallen rapidly, reaching about 640 cubic meters annually. Egypt also suffers from a water deficit of about 21.5 billion cubic meters annually, which it fills through the reuse of water with an efficiency of up to 80%, one of the highest in the world. For these reasons, the Egyptian people are extremely sensitive to any potential negative impact on their water security.
I therefore call for the adoption of a common vision, based on the realization that there are ample shared water resources in the Nile basin that have not been fully utilized, and the conviction that our duty to ourselves and our peoples is to work together and to use sound scientific methods to achieve the optimal and sustainable use of these resources. This will allow us to achieve our development aspirations, while avoiding the negative effects of drought. It will simultaneously allow us to guarantee the water security of all the basin countries, and avoid harm to the life that has taken root over decades and centuries along the banks of the Nile.
Our success in realizing this vision will contribute to enhancing our capacity to complete the implementation of "Agenda 2063".This embodies our African aspiration to achieve the economic and human development our citizens deserve, as well as support our efforts to promote political stability and security in our countries.
Brothers and Sisters
Egypt has come to this Summit with the aim of enhancing mutual confidence and overcoming any obstacles to our cooperation. We are inspired by leading African precedents of cooperation among riparian countries of international river basins. I would like to particularly highlight the success of the Senegal River Basin Commission, which has received international acclaim for its management of its shared water resources, based on the principles of consensus and benefit sharing from projects implemented along the watercourse.
We are convinced that the River Nile, this great river that brings together more than ten countries and whose banks are home to more than 250 million people, deserves to provide a more successful model for the ability of its governments and peoples to live together and benefit from the enormous water potential it presents to fulfill the needs of our peoples.
In light of Egypt's belief in the importance of restoring inclusiveness to the Nile Basin Initiative, it has expressed its intention to resume its active participation in the NBI, once all basin countries reaffirm their commitment to the principle of consensus in decision-making and a mechanism for prior notification is established in accordance with international standards, allowing for transparent exchange of information and consultation on projects constructed along the Nile, just like other successful precedents, particularly in Africa. Egypt also believes it is essential to convene the Nile Basin Summit periodically, in order to engage the leaders of the Nile Basin in guiding our cooperation in all fields, and reach out to broader horizons. In this context, it is my great pleasure to announce Egypt's readiness to host the next Nile Basin Summit next year.
My brother President Museveni
I would like to thank you once again, and affirm Egypt's aspiration to make this historic summit a starting point for a new phase of cooperation and transparent, genuine and constructive dialogue among brothers. This is essential to pave the way for our future partnership and overcome the obstacles it faces. We aim to reach a comprehensive partnership strategy in all fields based on a common vision that puts the differences of the past behind us and takes the interests of all into account, within a framework based on consensus and where there are no winners and losers, but only winners.