Mozambique: Southern Africa seeks agreement to share Zambezi river

28 July 2008

Maputo, Mozambique, 28 July – High-level officials from some of the countries in the Southern African region met Friday in Maputo seeking an agreement on sharing the Zambezi River, Mozambican newspaper Notícias reported.

The paper added that a share agreement of that river resource was due to have been signed last year, but the parties were unable to reach agreement on crucial issues, particularly on meeting the specific needs of each country.

According to Mozambique’s national director for Water, Julião Alferes, countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia have difficulty signing the regional protocols for sharing the Zambezi because they have yet to conclude their national strategies and plans for water resources and thus cannot ratify an agreement with any certainty that their interests are being protected.

Alferes also said that a protocol had already been signed by the countries that share the basin for the creation of the Zambezi Basin Commission (Zamcom), whose mission is to protect the interests of the countries in the exploration, use and planning of the river’s resources.

Discussions on the issue have been dragged out for some time and initially some said that the water was “generated” in their countries and therefore they had a right to a larger amount of it, whilst others called for an exchange of information on mitigating floods and droughts, the availability of water for irrigation, generating electricity etc.

At Friday’s meeting the parties committed to moving ahead quickly for Zamcom to start operating.

“These processes take some time. In our particular case, we have great interests. We are downstream, we are aiming for rapid development of the Zambezi basin both in terms of agriculture and energy production, infrastructures that cannot be built without dealing with the situation of resource use, as well as the fact we often suffer floods,” Alferes concluded. (macauhub)