The second Africa-Run Forum on equitable and reasonable utilization of trans-boundary water resources in Africa has kicked off today (Thursday) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Organizers expect the summit to be springboard to propel equitable and reasonable utilization of the transboundary watercourses through promotion and exchange of experiences and scientific researches as well as sharing of best practices and experiences of transboundary watercourses governance and utilization across the continent.

Delegates from Tanzania, DR Congo Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan, representatives from various water institutes and high-level guests are attending.

The conference held under the theme “Equitable and Reasonable Utilization of Transboundary Watercourses: the Key to Africa ‘s Prosperity”, will serve as a platform where experts and policymakers will deliberate on the immense benefits a fair and equitable utilization of the shared watercourse entails.

It could create an opportunity to further deliberate on how to better manage and utilize the shared water resource to ensure sustainable development, Organisers say.

H.E. Demeke Mekonnen Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, is expected to give the opening statement. Foreign Affairs Ministers from Uganda, DR Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan will also address the participants.

Below is the Forum’s concept note in part:

     1. Background

From September 5-7, 2022, the maiden regional conference on the “Equitable and Reasonable Utilization of the Nile Water Resources” was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The conference was conducted with the primary purpose of ensuring equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile River by establishing a platfonn that promotes the exchange of experiences and scientific research.

Participants of the first edition of the conference? which included representatives from policymakers, academicians, researchers, civil societies, youth associations, and journalists from the Nile riparian countries, have pledged to ensure the continuity of this conference by holding annual sessions, and by widening its outreach.

Institutionalizing and sustaining such platforms is important means that compliments existing platforms that work towards ensuring a fair utilization of the shared river.

It is in this context that the second edition of the conference will be held on the theme, “Equitable and Reasonable Utilization of Transboundary Watercourses: the Key to Africa ‘s Prosperity”.

This conference will serve as a platform where experts and policymakers will deliberate on the immense benefits a fair and equitable utilization of the shared watercourse entails.

It could create an opportunity to further deliberate on how to better manage and utilize the shared water resource to ensure sustainable development.

       Il. Objective of the Conference

The overall purpose of the conference remains to be “ensuring equitable and reasonable utilization of the transboundary watercourses through promotion and exchange of experiences and scientific researches as well as sharing of best practices and experiences of transboundary watercourses governance and utilization across the continent”

      111. 2 nd Afri-Run Sub-themes and Guiding Questions

Sub-theme 1. Transboundary watercourses as engines for sustainable development: lessons and experiences of transboundary cooperation

Africa has a greater share of its area within transboundary basins. In a continent that faces multiple development challenges, transboundary watercourses are critical for socioeconomic transformation, in particular for food and energy security.

These resources and the systems they support are nevertheless fragile. Water insecurity due to climate change, which could in turn jeopardize growth is one big challenge. These challenges also necessitates cooperation among riparian countries. Hence, speakers on this panel will discuss:-

  1. African transboundary watercourses as a critical resource for prosperity in Africa  the various challenges associated with the management and utilization of transboundary watercourses,
  2. The role of transboundary watercourse cooperation in the management and utilization of transboundary watercourses and in enhancing environmental sustainability,  explore lessons and experiences from different regions in Africa in jointly managing transboundary watercourses and institutional mechanisms set up in line with the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization,  the protection of transboundary watercourses from the point of view of sustainable development and African prosperity,

Sub-theme 2. An African Approach to the Management and Utilization of Transboundary

Watercourse.

Managing transboundary watercourses is not a simple task. Africa with multiple challenges associated with transboundary watercourses needs to devise an African own approach that aims for sustainable development in the continent.

Considering colonial legacy, post-independence initiatives, and Africa’s current water resources-related developments, the need for cooperative management and utilization of transboundary watercourses is critical for the continent. Some of the questions this session seeks to tackle are,

 What role has the existing African approaches in hydro-diplomacy played in accelerating common development and prosperity?

 Where does the African continent stand when it comes to addressing differences that arise over the management and utilization of shared watercourses?

  • To what extent has the African approach been challenged by the colonial legacies?
  • What do we mean by an African approach and how is it manifested practically?

Sub-theme 3: Linking Equitable and Reasonable Utilization of Watercourses to Africa

Water Vision 2025 and Agenda 2063

Ensuring equitable and reasonable utilization of water is a sin qua non to address Africa’s multitude nature of the socio-economic crisis. As the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa rightly stated sustainable and equitable utilization of water is crucial to attain socioeconomic development goals. Hence, the discussion in this sub-theme will look at the linkage between reasonable and sustainable utilization of watercourses and continental programs such as Agenda 2063 and Africa Water Vision 2025.

Taking the vision set for the coming decades, presenters will discuss gaps, if any, and lessons learned in the process of implementing the African Water Vision and the Agenda 2063 in relation to the management and utilization of transboundary watercourses.

  1. Sessions

The Conference will be held on 22 & 23 June 2023.

  • Plenary Session

Attendees from different segments such as government officials, scholars, youth, journalists, and activists will hold a meeting on the theme of equitable and reasonable utilization of transboundary watercourses. High-level participants will deliver opening remarks. This will be followed by presentations on the identified sub-themes.

  • High-Level Ministerial Consultation

After the opening plenary, the Foreign Ministers from riparian countries of the Nile Basin will hold a high-level consultation on developments in the Basin.

The consultation will discuss issues pertaining to enhancing cooperation and promoting the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of transboundary watercourses. Accordingly, attendees will share their experiences, insights, and perspectives regarding cooperation in the Nile Basin.

  • Breakout Sessions
    • Youth Breakout Session

Youth from riparian states will be gathered to share their experience and discuss matters pertinent to the equitable and reasonable utilization of transboundary watercourses and brainstorm the role expected from them to realize the very objectives of the session. This session will also serve to facilitate networking and collaboration among themselves.

  • Media Breakout Session

Besides the ministerial, scholars, and youth breakout sessions, attendees from the media sector, drawing from the riparian states, will hold a session to reflect on the role of the media in promoting equitable and reasonable use.

4,3.3 Advocacy Breakout Session

Advocacy groups from riparian states will attend the meeting on the equitable and reasonable utilization of transboundary watercourses. The attendees will exchange views regarding the roles they can play in promoting for the concept of equitable and reasonable utilization of transboundary watercourses.

  • Visiting the GERD

Heads of delegation will visit the GERD on 23 June 2023. This will demonstrate the importance of the project for the development of Ethiopia in particular and the region and the continent in general.

Kungu Al-Mahadi Adam is an experienced Ugandan multimedia Journalist with a background of fact checking and thorough research. He is very passionate about current African affairs particularly Horn of Africa. He... More by Kungu Al-Mahadi Adam

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