Peter Gatkuoth, the new Chairman of the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) has lined up the establishment of a Nile River Basin Commission as one of his key priorities.
Speaking during his inaugural visit to Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat in Entebbe, Uganda on Monday, Gatkuoth said he will ensure national engagement with all 10 Nile Basin Member States as a way to strengthen efforts that will lead to the establishment of the commission.
The Nile Basin countries have been working on a Cooperative Framework Agreement which targets proper management of the river basin resources.
The agreement provides for among other things, the formation of a commission which would serve to promote and facilitate the implementation of the agreement and to facilitate cooperation among the Nile Basin States in the conservation, management and development of the Nile River Basin and its waters.
Mr Gatkuoth noted that he will ensure frequent visits to the NBI Secretariat; continue engaging with development partners; doubling the information and communication efforts to increase NBI’s visibility among state and non-state actors; and building capacity at both the regional and national level.
“Highlighting that capacity building is integral if we want to succeed as an institution,” he said.
Mr Gatkuoth who is the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources for South Sudan took over the council leadership in November last year, following a tradition of the chairperson’s position rotating among the Nile Basin Member States annually.
The Nile-COM is the Nile Basin Initiative’s (NBI) highest political and decision-making body and comprises of ministers in charge of water affairs in the Nile Basin Member States.
During his first visit to the Secretariat, Gatkuoth toured the NBI office as well as the designated site where the NBI Centre of Excellence will be developed, bringing NBI one step closer to becoming the Nile River Basin Commission.
The Executive Director of NBI, Sylvester Matemu who received the new Nile-COM Chair expressed his immense pleasure with the fact that Mr Gatkuoth had made it a priority to visit the Secretariat so early in his tenure.
He solicited the Nile-COM Chair’s support in ensuring that NBI continues to meet its objectives.
Also present was Dr Florence tAdongo, the Director of Water Resources Management at the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment, and member of the Nile Technical Advisory Committee (Nile-TAC), remarking that Uganda, as host country for the NBI, was honoured to have him in the country.