The Egyptian government has pledged million dollars of aid to South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, according to state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.
The money, being sent by the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, is part of the ministry’s efforts to improve relations with Nile basin countries, Al Ahram said.
Egypt will train technical staff in Tanzania’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation using US$ 5 million of Egyptian aid and US$ 4.5 million will go towards training workers in the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture.
These sums are dwarfed however, by aid to South Sudan. Africa’s newest country will receive US$ 26.6 million for developmental projects including digging wells to provide drinking water, Al-Ahram said. The Minister of Water resources and Irrigation will be visiting South Sudan soon.
Official spokesperson of the ministry, Dr. Kahled Waseef, explained the scale of aid to South Sudan. “South Sudan is a special case,” he said. “It is the ‘lake of waters’ so creating development projects there is a top priority.”
“We can benefit from investing there in terms of water by creating development and forging stronger ties. It is better for South Sudan to be grateful to Egypt than for the aid to come from another country,” Waseef added. “South Sudan is a new country with which we have very strong relations.”
Executive member of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa and former Director of the Arab and African Research Centre in Cairo, Helmy El-Shaarawy, said Egypt is keen to maintain its special relationship with South Sudan.
“This aid is only a continuation of efforts by Egypt in South Sudan,” he said. “Egypt had agreements with South Sudan before its independence.”
El Sharawy said it is wrong to understand the aid as an attempt by Egypt to preserve its share of Nile water threatened following the introduction of the Cooperative Framework Agreement which could see a could see smaller shares of the Nile water for Egypt.
Egypt played an important role in easing the tensions between Sudan and South Sudan which split in 2011, according to El Sharawy, and it is in Egypt’s interests to make sure that this tension doesn’t resurface.
“The role of Egypt in Africa should be much bigger than just spending a few million dollars in African countries,” he said. “Egypt should be involved in many general issues in Africa including Somalia, South Sudan, Congo, and Mali.”
President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, on Sunday expressed gratitude for the aid, according to Al-Ahram.