River Nile negotiations
Ninety nine per cent of the negotiations on the Nile River Cooperative Framework have been concluded, Minister for Water Resources Mahmoud Abu-Zeid has said, explaining that only one point was hanging and that the treaty would be signed as soon as it is cleared. Negotiations on the treaty which should supposedly replace the 1929 and 1954 agreements that favoured Sudan and Egypt have been ongoing through the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) for some 10 years now. Through the NBI the Nile basin countries—Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania cooperate to promote development, peace and security. Dr Abu-Zeid said Egypt would continue to support the Aquatic Weed Control Project in Uganda, now in its second phase, which involves clearing the water hyacinth from Uganda’s lakes and water channels. The first phase was financed through an Egyptian grant of $13.9 million, while another $4.5 million will be spent on the second phase. He added that discussions were ongoing with Indonesia on the possibility of setting up factories in Egypt to manufacture furniture from the water weed. Processing the weed into animal feed as suggested, he said, was not economically viable.
A draft law regulating nuclear and radioactive activities has been finalised and sent to the Cabinet for discussion ahead of referring it to the People’s Assembly and Shura Council, Minister of Electricity and Energy Hassan Younis has said. The bill outlines a blueprint requirement for the Egyptian nuclear program, he explained.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that Egypt has achieved great success in combating tuberculosis. Infection rates have fallen to 21 per 100 thousand in 2008 compared with 24 per 100 thousand in the previous year. At a cure rate of 87 per cent, Egypt has surpassed the global average cure rates. The percentage of early detection of the disease has risen to 72 per cent due to the efforts undertaken by the national programme to combat tuberculosis.
Egypt took part in the Nabucco gas pipeline project summit that was held in Budapest last week. The summit was attended by heads of states and premiers of the countries through which the gas lines will run: Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Germany and Hungary, and addressed means of securing natural gas needs and funding in view of the global financial crunch. It also tackled means of promoting cooperation between the EU and gas-producing states in the Caspian Sea or Middle East regions. Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy, who represented Egypt, said that Egypt’s invitation to the summit underlined the importance of the Arab gas pipeline which will help transport natural gas from Egypt to Europe.
The 41st round of Cairo International Book Fair, which was launched on 21 January, is running till next Thursday. Taking part are 765 publishers from 27 countries. Korea is a first-time participant while Russia has a distinguished participation in preparation for being next year’s guest of honour. The United Kingdom is guest of honour this year.
Dance in Vienna
An art evening was recently held in Vienna in which al-Ahram Folklore Troupe presented its annual performance together with German and Austrian performers. The show, which involved more than 50 dancers, presented Bedouin, Pharaonic and Western dances.
The National Library and Archives has held at its premises in Bab al-Khalq a celebratory event to display the largest collection of Persian manuscripts in the video record of the world memory by UNESCO. This collection is considered among the most important acquisitions of the National Library and Archives, owing to its rarity as well as its archaeological, scientific and historic value.