Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat has welcomed a new Executive Director, Prof. Seifeldin Hamad Abdalla.
He brings to the organisation decades of deep experience and proven record of success as an engineer, a manager and a researcher. He took office on April 8, 2019 and will lead the secretariat for the next two years.
“I want to focus on the commitment of the countries to NBI and also find a way forward regarding the stalemate on the re-engagement of Egypt and attain full membership and the engagement of Eritrea,” he said soon after taking office.
Speaking about his plan for the Secretariat, Prof. Seif emphasised the need to fast-track the stalled political process between Nile Basin countries.
“In order for citizens to reap the benefits of the technical track, the political track is very important in setting a solid foundation for the technical track. What we are doing on the technical track can only be translated as investment benefit on the ground for the Member States if we ensure that NBI is one Nile – one family – and moving together,” he said.
The Nile Basin Initiative is the only basin-wide institution providing a neutral platform to the 10 Member States, to discuss how to jointly take care of and utilise the shared Nile Basin water resources for the benefit of all and to address the common challenges such as food, water and energy security as well as the negative impacts of climate change, which no country can tackle alone.
A Sudanese national, Prof. Seifeldin was most recently the Chairman of the Water Resources Technical Organ in Sudan, a position he assumed in July 2012.
He was responsible for transboundary water issues of Sudan including the Nile and its tributaries, among other things.
Prior to that, he served as the Minister of Water Resources from December 2011 to July 2012. This is in addition to serving in various other capacities since 1979 when he attained his B. Sc. (Hons.) in Civil Engineering from the University of Khartoum and joined the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources.
Prof. Seifeldin made major contributions to initiating and preparing agreements that have enhanced cooperation among the Nile (and IGAD) countries, preventing conflicts and/or reducing tension and hence improving the future economic and political collaboration between millions of people in the region.
His greatest successes were “The Declaration of Principles on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)” between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, signed by the respective Heads of State in Khartoum on March 23, 2015.
Second is the “November 5, 2012, Addis Agreement” signed between the same three countries, which led to the unfreezing of Sudan activities and resumption of full participation in the Nile Basin Initiative.
Third is the “IGAD Water Resources Policy of 2015” signed by the eight countries of IGAD, which paved the way for future cooperation and enhanced peace and security in the IGAD region; and last but not least, “Negotiating the Transboundary Arab Water Agreement”, among other initiatives.
This is in addition to the preparation of policies, strategies and planning for the Nile and other water resources in The Sudan.
He joins the Secretariat during ‘The Year of the Nile Basin’ declared so by the Nile Council of Ministers. His many years of experience in the water sector, coupled with his association with NBI as a member of the governance body, will no doubt contribute to achieving the objectives of the declaration under the motto: ‘Putting Water at the heart of Regional Transformation.’
A man of many hats, Prof. Seifeldin, who attained higher education in Holland, Italy and a doctorate degree from Utah University, USA in 1997, has also taught and supervised many BSc, MSC, and PhD programmes at different universities and strategic academic institutions both within and outside Sudan. This is in addition to authoring more than 100 publications about water resources.
He is a very active member in the NGO arena: Chair of The Sudan “International Hydrological Programme (IHP)”, and “Global Water Partnership (GWP)”, member of the Board of the Sudan Engineers Union, Sudan Engineering Council and Chair of the Arab Water Committee.
He has also received a number of Honour Awards, notable among them: Decoration Honour and Medal of El-Nilain (First Order), received in recognition of the great noble service and achievements for the country, by the President of the Republic in 2017; Distinguished Alumni Award of 2016 from UNESCO-IHE Delft in recognition of outstanding and significant achievements in water development; Medal and Certificate for Honour and Excellence in Education (1996) provided by Utah State University and the Honour Society Phi Kappa Phi, USA.