Guinea rejoins Mali, Mauritania and Senegal to jointly govern the Senegal River

25 Oct 2023 by The Water Diplomat

Guinea has announced its intention to rejoin the Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du Fleuve Senegal (OMVS) in October, reversing a decision taken by the government to withdraw from the OMVS in July. On the 18th of Jully the government of Guinea had announced that it would suspend its participation in the river basin organization, noting with c

oncern that its strategic interests had not been sufficiently taken into account. More specifically, Guineans decried the delays in implementing the Koukoutoumba hydroelectric dam. This project is a proposed 294 MW hydroelectric dam to be built across the Bafing River, a tributary of the Senegal River  which was originally to be financed by the China Exim Bank. An assessment asessment out by the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment found that the proposed dam, which was to be constructed in the Moyen-Bafing National Park in Guinea, could be expected to cause involuntary resettlement of thousands of people and impact important biodiversity areas, including chimpanzee habitats in and around the Moyen Bafing National Park.

On the 19th of October, during an extraordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State of the OMVS which had been called specifically to discuss the situation, the Conference decided to appoint the candidate proposed by the Republic of Guinea to the position of Deputy High Commissioner of the OMVS. The Conference also shared the need with the Council of Ministers responsible to oversee the joint management of the OMVS, to expedite Guinea’s participation in the other institutions of the river basin organization.

The OMVS is well known internationally as an example of successful water diplomacy and cooperation between countries on the joint management of the shared waters of the river basin. Amongst other things, this track record led to Senegal, where the OMVS has its headquarters, being chosen as the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to host a World Water Forum, i.e. the 9th World Water Forum, dedicated to "Water Security for Peace and Development".