A COMMITTEE of water ministers and officials from six Nile Basin countries concluded meetings in Khartoum on Monday, with Egyptian concerns around water share due to be discussed later this month in Uganda.
The meetings, which began earlier this week, included “long discussions wherein Egypt presented all its concerns regarding the Nile Basin Initiative and the Entebbe agreement,” Egypt’s Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati said.
The Entebbe agreement, more commonly known as the Cooperative Framework Agreement, has been signed by six Nile Basin countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Abdel-Ati said that a meeting scheduled to take place later in March in Uganda of the Council of Ministries of the Nile Basin countries is to discuss the results of the Khartoum meetings and Egypt’s concerns as well as to “look at solutions and alternatives that… guarantee collective benefit and prevent harm”, the minister added.
The meetings were attended by water ministers from Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Rwanda as well as representatives from Kenya and Ethiopia.
The Nile Basin Initiative has 10 permanent members — Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Eritrea has observer status.
The under-construction Grand Ethiopian Dam, which when complete will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam, has been a source of concern for Egypt in recent years, with some experts arguing that filling and operating the dam will reduce the water that flows downstream to Egypt.
AN INVESTIGATION into Mona Mina, the Doctors Syndicate’s undersecretary, has been dropped due to what was described as “a lack of significance”. Mina was accused of making false statements aimed at spreading false news and disturbing the state’s social peace. Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek on Sunday halted the investigation.
During a TV interview discussing a countrywide shortage in medical supplies, Mina said during a phone-in that she received a complaint from a doctor who said the hospital he works in ordered him to use the same syringe more than once on several patients.
In response to Mina’s allegations, the Ministry of Health denied that it gave such orders and called for an investigation into the claim.
The ministry condemned the statement, saying that it aimed at creating panic among patients. It also claimed that hospitals have a supply in medical equipment meant to last two years, bought under the supervision of the Armed Forces.
Tuition in pounds
A COURT has ordered Egyptian students of the American University in Cairo to pay tuition fees in Egyptian pounds instead of dollars after a group of parents brought a lawsuit challenging a recent increase in fees.
The ruling by the Administrative Court comes following the floatation of the Egyptian pound in November last year which led to the dollar more than doubling in value against the local currency.
The leading private university currently requires Egyptian students to pay half of their fees in local currency and half in dollars, or the local currency according to the market rate.
In November, following the liberalisation of the pound, AUC students, parents and alumni protested against potential fee hikes. As a result the university agreed to calculate any outstanding payments due for that semester’s fees at the pre-liberalisation exchange rate of LE8.88 to the dollar.
Fees for the spring semester, which began in January, are calculated at the market rate of the dollar, which was then approximately LE18 to the dollar.
The lawsuit called on the prime minister, the speaker of parliament, the minister of higher education and the president of AUC to order a halt to fees being paid in US dollars.
“We respect the judiciary,” AUC’s media relations director Rehab Saad said following the court verdict.
Saad added that the university administration still does not have a position on the verdict and will hold a meeting later on Sunday to decide on a statement.
AUC previously calculated Egyptian student tuition fees in local currency until a 2014 decision mandated that half be paid in dollars. To help ease the burden, AUC set up an emergency grant which allows students facing financial hardships to pay up to 100 per cent of their dollar portion of fees at the old exchange rate of LE8.88.
The university announced in January that 1,833 undergraduate students received the emergency grant for the spring semester.