An expert has urged African countries in River Nile basin to sustain cooperation on the use of Nile water in a bid to avoid tension and conflict.

Innocent Ntabana, Executive Director of Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), an intergovernmental organization, told reporters that River Nile, the longest in the world, is a key resource among the ten member countries in its basin, while noting that if mismanaged conflict may occur.

NBI brings together ten countries in the Nile basin including Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, while Eritrea participates as an observer. The main aim of NBI is to foster cooperation among member countries on the utilization of the Nile.

NBI figures show that there are 250 million inhabitants within the Nile Basin while 450 million live within the member countries. Projection figures indicate that there would be over 1 billion people in the member countries by 2050.

Ntabana said with this population pressure many countries will look at the Nile for survival while some have started constructing infrastructure on the 6,700-km river.

He said as countries plan these infrastructures, they have to put into considerations the interest of other countries.

A recent decision by Ethiopia to construct a power dam on the Nile caused a row with Egypt that protested over concerns of reduction in water volumes. The Nile is the life line of Egypt where the river pours into the Mediterranean Sea.

Riparian countries now have a new framework agreement that seeks to replace colonial agreements on sharing and usage of the Nile. The colonial agreements grant Egypt bigger quotas of the Nile waters.

Egypt declined to be part of the new framework partly over fears that the volume of water flow would be affected if several projects are to be constructed on the river.

Ntabana said that there are ongoing talks to bring Egypt back.

Early this month, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called for a summit to discuss the deadlock on the new agreement.

Museveni who was speaking during the visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the deadlock has dragged on for long and needs to be concluded. Enditem

Source: Ronald Ssekandi, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh