Projects of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) should benefit at least 30 million people in the next eight years, Tanzania’s Minister of Water and Irrigation has stated.
Gerson Lwenge, speaking during a media briefing in Dar-es-salaam yesterday, said: “We have worked together as Member States to negotiate and agree on more than 35 investment projects contributing to food, water and energy security in the region. These projects, once fully implemented by the Member States, will benefit at least 30 million people by 2025.”
Uganda is a member of the NBI which is celebrating 18 years on February 22, 2017. Other members are Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania.
“That day, in 1999, marked a major milestone in the history of Nile Cooperation. It was the very first time the countries jointly agreed to establish an all-inclusive basin-wide regional institution, to provide a forum for consultation and coordination,” Lwenge said about the annual Nile Day.
He said that over the years, the NBI has focused on activities aimed at assisting Member States to achieve their development objectives through Nile Cooperation.
Lwenge highlighted some of the benefits to Tanzania, which include the 80MW Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric project, which will provide an additional 27MW of renewable hydroelectric power to Tanzania. The Iringa-Mbeya Interconnection will reinforce the Tanzanian power grid and extend the 400 KV system up to Mbeya and later to Kasama. In addition, the 400 KV Kenya-Tanzania Interconnection will add 510 kilometres to the existing grid.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is ‘Our Shared Nile – Source of Energy, Food and Water for All’, intended to highlight the importance of the River Nile in the quest for food, water and energy security in the Nile Basin as well as the interrelationships among the three sectors.
Traversing about 6,695 kilometers, the Nile is one of the world’s longest rivers, feeding millions and giving birth to entire civilizations. The river is a major source of water for the Nile Basin countries. Water, energy and food are inextricably linked and are essential for human well-being, poverty reduction and sustainable development.
The close interrelationships amongst these resources therefore call for the balancing of the act of exploitation to ensure sustainability for future generations.
Projections in the Nile Basin region indicate that demand for energy, food and freshwater, will increase significantly over the next decades under the pressure of population growth and mobility, economic development, regional trade, urbanization and climate change among others.
Agriculture in the Nile Basin consumes more water than any other sector. At the same time, water is needed for energy generation and transmission, particularly for hydro power, which is the preferred source of energy for various reasons; key among them the low production cost, which makes power affordable to the urban and rural poor. On the other hand, energy is needed to produce, transport, treat and distribute water; the more energy we need, the more water we use, and vice versa.