Egypt Halts Financial Grants to Nile Basin Countries

The spokesman of the Egyptian Irrigation Ministry, Walid al-Hakiki, said that Egypt would stop providing financial grants to the Nile Basin countries after reducing the ministry’s budget approximately to the half.

The Irrigation Ministry spokesman added in his statement that “The grants will be transformed into nonfinancial aids in investment projects or presenting experts for the establishment of national projects in the Nile Basin countries.”

The Egyptian parliament has approved 2.6 billion pounds (approximately $290 million) as a budget for the Ministry of Irrigation for the fiscal year 2016-2017 that will start next July. This is considered a sharp drop in the ministry’s budget that used to reach 5 billion pounds ($560 million) in the past years.

Egypt’s former Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Nasr Allam said that reducing the ministry’s budget to the half “is an alarming threat as it is an annual commitment that should not be abandoned.” He pointed out that the Egyptian grants to African countries are considered “a support within a political framework that aims to preserve Egypt’s national water security.”

Since the 1960’s, Egypt has provided financial grants to several countries in the Nile Basin region. According to the latest Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation statistics for last year, Egypt granted Uganda $ 26 million to build a series of dams and granted Kenya $10 million for projects on developing water resources. In addition to about $8 million for the establishment of electric power plants in Sudan and South Sudan.

In the same context, the former Minister of Irrigation Hossam Maghazi stated last November that the Egyptian grants to African countries have amounted to $ 88 million in 2014; varied mainly between dams and power plants projects.

The decision comes at a very critical time, where Egypt should have been seeking to strengthen its strategic relations with the Nile Basin countries instead of downgrading its relation, especially in light of the establishment of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia that will probably affect Egypt’s water supply.