Ethiopia: Impressive Growth, Exclusive Development


As the government seeks to maintain high growth rates, forced relocations cause widespread anger and levels of human development remain low.

The 2015 National Human Development Report, launched  by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA), indicates that Ethiopia has seen some of the highest economic growth rates over the last 15 years but has not encouraged widespread inclusive development, being ranked at 174 out of 187 on the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI).

Africa’s oldest independent state and second most populous nation has marked itself as amongst the continents top performing economies after being amassed in a discourses  of poverty and conflict in the 1990s, largely propagated by the international media.

Between 2003 and 2013 growth rates in Ethiopia averaged around 10.9%, with the most recent estimates in 2012/13 revealing a GDP growth rate of 9.7%; the country was the 12th fastest growing economy in 2012 indicates the UNDP report. The government has set out aims to make Ethiopia a middle income country by 2025, investing in economic and social infrastructure, public services, tax collection systems, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Ethiopia figures

Catalysing this growth, according to the UNDP report, has been strategic policy decisions aided by political stability, weather conditions, high levels of foreign direct investment amongst reforms to economic activities, trade and public sector management, with the government prioritising development in agriculture and industry.

At the launch of the report the atmosphere was dominated by the defensiveness of the government in the wake of UNDP conclusions that while growth has contributed to reduced poverty levels, the absolute number of people in poverty has remained largely unchanged over the last 15 years, due to high population growth. Development has concentrated on certain socio-economic groupings, according to the Addis Fortune, who explained that “Ethiopia has attained success in providing access to more, but not necessarily better quality, social services”.

Outside observers have criticised the state-led development strategy, particularly the forced removal of local populations to make way for industries needed to support continued growth. Recent work on the Gibe III Dam has seen communities living around Lake Turkana in southern Ethiopia predict widespread conflict as the dam reduces water levels and increases competition for scarce resources, report UK-based the Guardian.

Ethiopia’s state agricultural development strategy has been characterised by a ‘villagisation’ programme facilitating the removal of indigenous communities from areas reserved for large scale development. A report entitled ‘Ignoring Abuse in Ethiopia: DFID and USAID in the Lower Omo Valley‘ produced by international advocacy group the Oakland Institute, explores the forced removal of populations in the name of development in Ethiopia.  .


Omo River Valley (CC 2013)

Such disparities in economic and human development are surprising considering recent praise for Ethiopia’s ‘green economy’; East Africa Business Week report Fritz Jung, a representative of the German government who have financed Ethiopia’s Sustainable Land Management Programme, as saying “it is proof of Ethiopia’s visionary engagement for combining socio-economic development as well as environmental sustainability”.

Perspectives and priorities differ; while Ethiopia continues to see growth, some 37 million people still remain in poverty and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has identified that more than half of  farmers are cultivating plots barely large enough to provide sustenance, resulting in large swathes of rural-urban migration. Moreover state ownership of land is creating unfair competition in the economy, favouring government supported conglomerates, reported the Inter Press Service.

While for some Ethiopia’s rapid economic growth is seen as an “economic miracle” for  large sections of the populace very few benefits seem to have materialised.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Ethiopia: Building First Class Infrastructure
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue 3, Pp. 20770B-20770C

Ethiopia: Poverty Down 30% Since 2000
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue 1, Pp. 20701A-20702A

Ethiopia: Huge State Investment
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue 11, Pp.20628C-20629B

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Africa – Internally Displaced Persons


New report ‘Global Overview 2015: People Internally Displaced by Conflict and Violence’ charts soaring numbers of IDPs across Africa

The report, issued  by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, claims that a record 38 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, of which 11 million were newly displaced in 2014, largely from violent conflicts in Iraq, Syria and South Sudan.

Jan Egeland, NRC Secretary General, said that “these are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signalling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians”. These figures for internally displaced persons (IDP) are more than double that of refugees, who more frequently make international news when they cross national borders.

Untitled 2

Source: NRC Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

While conflicts in the Middle East accounted for the largest proportion of global IDPs, conflicts in Africa also accounted for significant percentages particularly South Sudan (11.87%) , the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) (9.13%) and Nigeria (8.88%). The report provides overviews of the situation across the continent.

Central Africa, according to the report, is a hugely complex displacement situation. By the end of 2014 there were 7.9 million IDPs across Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), DR Congo, South Sudan and Sudan, comprising 70% of all forced displacement on the continent.

Displacement levels in Central Africa saw an increase of 9% between 2013 and 2014 and continue to grow; in South Sudan, the UN News Service reported on May 7th that the number of IDPs seeking refuge with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has grown to 53,000 following recent fighting.

Evidence suggests that the majority of regional conflicts occur over the control of land, resources and economic power, although the report also indicates some more unknown dynamics, highlighting that many communities undertake pendular movements from places of refuge then back to places of origin, experiencing multiple displacements. Similarly limited information exists on the effects of displacement on nomadic groups such as the Fulani herders in CAR.

In East AfricaKenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Uganda – there are estimated to be 1.9 million IDPs, with Somalia holding the largest proportion at 1.1 million. Kenya has seen a huge growth with 220,000 reported in 2014 rising from from 55,000 in 2013. According to the report, factors contributing to displacement in the region include inter-communal tensions and ethno-religious divisions, coupled with rising food insecurity. The situation is particularly stark in Somalia where IDPs are reported to have the highest levels of acute malnutrition and a Human Rights Watch report on April 20th  documented that 21,000 IDPs are being forcibly removed in the capital Mogadishu.

In West Africa – primarily Nigeria, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire – the total number of IDPs is around 1.5 million, with the newly displaced accounting for one million of this. Nigeria has the largest number of IDPs resulting predominately from Boko Haram violence which has also spilled over into Cameroon forcing the displacement of  a further 40,000 people.

The situation in North Africa is more closely tied to conflicts in the Middle East. The combined Middle-East/North Africa region has seen at least 11.9 million cumulatively displaced,  3.8 million of whom have been recently displaced. This is occurring largely in Iraq and Syria following the emergence of the Islamic State insurgency, but also in Libya where 400,000 IDPs fled in 2014, six times the amount in 2013.

However the figures cited are estimates and the IRIN explained that the actual figures could be much higher due to differences and difficulties in the way IDP data is collected. In some cases those living in designated camps can be more easily counted but are only a segment of the displaced population, as most head to urban centres and become almost invisible.

Read the full report here

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Political, Social  & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue 12, Pp. 20378c-20379c

South Sudan: Growing International and Regional Frustration
olitical, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.9, Pp.20291C-20293B

Cameroon: Boko Haram Exploits Poverty
olitical, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.3, Pp.20498A

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Africa – Pastoralist Knowledge Hub


Online hub for pastoralists to help address issues that face some of Africa’s most vulnerable communities

The Pastoralist Knowledge Hub, launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) aims to provide pastoral communities with a space to discover solutions to common challenges, discuss agricultural innovations and nominate and select representatives for global forums.

It will bring together institutions including the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World bank, alongside NGOs and pastoralist civil society groups.

Pastoral communities are important producers of livestock, meat, milk and animal products, and according to the FAO produce more than half of agricultural GDP in many countries. Through habitat provisioning, nutrient cycling and control of bush encroachment, livestock grazing helps to support the African rangeland ecosystem, however despite this they have often been marginalised in decision making that affects range-lands and migration routes.

According to a UN press release, the new global forum is an attempt to overcome a global policy gap in discussions of pastoralism and the challenges faced by transhumant communities.  Helena Semedo, FAO director-general said that “pastoralists are able to produce food where no crops can be grown. Yet, their concerns are poorly heard by the international community”.


In Kenya, the Maasai community have faced the failure of seasonal rains in November and December; Kakuta Maimai, a farmer from Kajiado County and member of the Maasai Association, said “it’s nearly a year without rain and many people lost lots of cows to the ongoing drought”, reported Kenyan news outlet The Star (18/4).

In Tanzania representatives of 16 pastoral communities gathered at Kwa-Idd in Arusha city to discuss issues related to changing weather patterns. Edward Porokwa, Director of Pastoralists Indigenous Non-Government Organisations Forum, said that “pastoralists are the most vulnerable group when it comes to effects of global warming and climate change”, reported Tanzania Daily News (6/4).

The International Crisis Group, in an April 1st report, document security issues facing pastoral communities in Central Africa, including a deteriorating regional security situation, global climate change, multiplication in migration roads and expansion of cultivated areas, which is leading to increased  competition for resources, particularly water.

In Chad, due to limited bilateral cooperation on pastoralist issues with the Central African Republic (CAR), there has been an increase in violence especially on migration roads and the emergence of new pastoralist groups with different motives and access to weapons.

In CAR violence between by Christian Anti-Balaka militia has caused many Mbororo herders to shelter in a UN camp and only to venture out after months of talks, according to Reuters.  Thibaud Lesueur of International Crisis Group said that, “it’s very likely that if the pastoralists restarted their herding in the bush a few kilometres from town, they would once again be targeted by militia and bandits.”

Similarly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the migration of Mbororo herdsmen from several surrounding countries has caused tension with the local populations. According to the International Crisis Group,  DRC and CAR do not regulate transhumance and are unable to deal with the violence between communities, whereas some countries such as Niger and Chad receive financial support from donors to regulate pastoralism.

In many parts of Africa conflicts and tensions between pastoral and sedentary communities are increasingly complex, extending beyond national borders and interweaving with other regional conflicts and security issues. It is hoped that the Pastoralist Knowledge Hub will facilitate and contribute to the strengthening of pastoral livelihoods through worldwide sharing of information, stories, solutions and knowledge.

Find out more the Africa Research Bulletin:

Livestock: Kenya
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue. 10, Pp.20611b-20611c

IGAD: World Bank Support for Pastoralists
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.3, Pp.20333B

Pastoralists Vs Pollution
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.43, Issue.11, Pp.17173A

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East Africa: Investments in Rail Infrastructure


Members of the East African Community pledge to use Central and Northern Transport Corridors to unlock the region’s economic potential

East African Community (EAC) member states, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda are hoping to implement joint infrastructure projects to further boost regional trade and growth. Tanzanian President and Chairman of the EAC, Jakaya Kikwete is quoted by Tanzania Daily News as saying “it is my wish to see the Northern and Central Corridors infrastructure to be one in the future”.

Following a Northern & Central Corridor Investors Forum in Dar es Salaam on March 25th, EAC members launched the construction of the US$14.2 billion East African Central Corridor Railway. According to Transport Minister Samuel Sitta the project will be “the single biggest project ever to be implemented by the Tanzanian government since our countries independence”, report Reuters.

The project will involve constructing 2561km of standard gauge railway to connect Dar es Salaam to landlocked neighbours of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia and eastern DR Congo,  costing around $7.6bn, while two other additional lines will be constructed to serve mining regions in the southern and northern Tanzania, at a cost of around $6.6bn. The main line will contain spur lines that will connect to Kigali, Rwanda, Bjumbura in Burundi, and Masaka, Uganda, explain Tanzania News Daily.


Landlocked countries in Africa are reliant on rail and road links through to main coastal economic and commercial hubs; in East Africa particularly Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Mombasa in Kenya. In direct competition to the Tanzanian railway plans, Kenya is also constructing a standard gauge railway, funded by China Road and Bridge Corporation, from Mombasa-Nairobi to Kampala.

The Kenyan government has claimed the new railway from Mombasa to the Great Lakes region will boost economic growth by 1.5% per year, report Ventures Africa, eventually extending to replace the ageing colonial-era narrow gauge railway that reaches towards DR-Congo. The initial 609 km section from Mombasa to Nairobi has been started with a finish date set for 2017.

China has agreed to finance part of a $3.2 billion Uganda rail plan, report East Africa Business Week; construction of the Eastern and Northern Standard Gauge Railway that will connect Kampala, Malaba on the Kenyan border and Nimule in South Sudan, while joining the wider standard gauge network, giving fruitful economic benefits from links to Kenya’s coastal commercial hub.

AFKInsider comment that Kenya and Tanzania are vying to be the preferred regional transport hub and with recent oil and gas discoveries in the region, the area has become a hive of exploration. Transport minister Sitta said “We are in competition at all times with the Mombasa port…its a competitive business so we need to be efficient”.

Both countries are also planning to invest in new port projects at Bagamoyo in Tanzania and Lamu in Kenya, report Tanzania Daily News. The Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project was first proposed in the 1970s to provide Sudan and Ethiopia access to the Indian ocean. In 2013 China Communications Construction Co Ltd won the US$445 million contract for the first three berths of the port and according to the Kenyan government the LAPSSET project is nearing advanced stages. The project includes an economic corridor comprised of road networks, oil pipelines, three airports and a standard gauge railway network from Lamu to Juba, South Sudan and Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia (shown on map below).


The majority of financing for large infrastructure projects across East Africa, and large parts of the African continent as a whole, is stemming from China, who have recently signed agreements with the African Union (AU) for a network of high-speed rail links in the next few decades.

Chinese companies and banks are financing a variety of railway projects across the region  including the Addis-Ababa Light Rail Transit System in Ethiopia. In 2014 China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation completed the reconstruction of the Benguela railway connecting Angola, Zambia and south-eastern DR Congo, and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is constructing the $4 billion, 740-km electric railway that connects Addis Ababa and Djibouti.

Open database, Aid Data, provide a useful visual mapping of Chinese-financed projects in Africa, available here.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Roads & Railways: Kenya
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.1, Pp. 20715B-20716A

Ports & Shipping: Tanzania
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.10, Pp. 20607A-20608A

Roads & Railways: Uganda
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.8, Pp.20536B-20537C

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Nigeria – Elections

Recent presidential elections herald a historic moment for African politics, but in a challenging economic and security situation newly elected Muhammadu Buhari faces significant challenges

On March 28th, Africa’s biggest and most populous economy conducted its presidential elections; General Mohammadu Buhari from the All Progressive Congress (APC) took the position of President and Commander in Chief as he defeated Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), with votes of 15,857,152 (55%) to 12,857,152 (45%), report Nigerian newspaper This Day.

Buhari, a staunch anti-corruption campaigner, seized power in a 1983 coup before being ousted 18 months later. Since then he has run for several elections, and received cautious support from the US following announcement of recent election results. He has strong support in Northern areas where he is viewed as the answer to security troubles, although the elections were more closely contested in the oil producing Southern provinces.


The elections were the intense focus of international attention, with electoral observers from the European Union (EU) and other participants from the African Union (AU), ECOWAS, Human Rights Monitor and Independent Election Monitoring Groups, amongst many others.

Nigeria’s Independent Election Commission (INEC), implemented an impressive array of micro and macro anti-fraud measures, tactics and pre-planning, to minimise the risk of vote-rigging. Networks of reporters operated at most of the 120,000 polling stations, recording proceedings on mobile telephone cameras.

Despite some incidents of Boko Haram insurgent attacks on voters, the elections have been some of the most orderly in Nigeria’s history, especially consider post-election violence in 2011 that left 800 dead. The actions of Jonathan Goodluck following his defeat also contributed greatly to continued peace; commentators note how he phoned newly elected Buhari, addressed the country as a conciliatory statesman and accepted defeat in a humble manner. It is not hard to see how the post-election situation could have been much different.

Post-Election Challenges

Buhari faces a steep task; aside from security troubles in the North, drops in the global price of oil have hampered the Nigerian economy, putting increased pressures on state revenues and risking devaluations of currency. According to Africa Confidential, one of Buhari’s first tasks will be to provide clear rules of accountability and transparency in the oil and gas sectors, addressing the perception of widespread corruption that contributed to the downfall of Jonathan Goodluck.

The divisions between the Northern areas hit by the Boko Haram insurgency and the richer oil producing south must also be carefully managed, as Buhari looks to overcome a tense period in the political landscape.

Since Jonathan Goodluck’s office in 2010, the per capita income in Nigeria has risen from US$4,740 to $5360, according to World Bank statistics, but the income disparity has also increased. Some suggest that this is due to the proceeds from Nigeria’s huge oil industry that have never made it beyond PDP supporters in the south. An info-graphic produced by the Wall Street Journal gives a visual representation of the disparity;


Ethnic division will continue to pose a huge challenge for stable democracy in Nigeria; the International Business Times explain that Buhari only narrowly won Lagos, a key state, by 792,460 to 632,327. However in the majority Igbo southeastern states of Imo, Anambra, Enagu, Ebonyi and Abia, Jonathan Goodluck’s PDP won landslide victories, and the Igbo have come to be seen as responsible for this.

On April 5th the Oba, or King of Lagos, threatened the Igbo with fatal consequences if they did not vote for Akinwui Ambode of the APC in upcoming governorship elections on April 11th. While the Oba has no political power over the state and Ambode has issued a statement distancing himself from the threats, he is closely aligned with Nigerian politicians in advisory roles.

In recent days stories have emerged of increased post-election violence; the APC claimed that the PDP had killed 55 of its members in Rivers state, a stronghold of PDP support, ahead of the governorship elections on April 11th. These developments highlight the political tension and challenges that still face Buhari and the continued stability of Nigerian democracy.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin today

Nigeria: Poll Prepared?
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.3, Pp.20493A-20493B

Nigeria: Elections Postponed
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.2, Pp.20457B-20458B

Nigeria: Poll Campaign
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.1, Pp.20423C-20424C

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Africa – Agriculture on the Agenda


Huge potential for African agriculture but climatic changes hamper productivity; debates continue as to whether agricultural development should be smallholder or corporate-led. 

Following the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the African Union (AU) declared 2014 to be the year of agriculture and food security.  In 2015 they reiterated their commitment to the Malabo Declaration to allot 10% of income to agriculture, double productivity and cut post-harvest losses.

AllAfrica cite three figures to show the potential for agricultural development in Africa:

  • Roughly 600 million hectares of uncultivated land, around 60% of the global total
  • 80% of the land is rain-fed and not irrigated
  • The productivity of African agriculture is lower than other comparable regions

By developing these uncultivated areas, using more irrigation and enhancing agricultural productivity, the AU claim huge gains can be made in the fight against hunger, unemployment and poverty. The World Bank estimates that the African food market will be valued at $1,000 billion by 2030, compared to $313 billion today.


A large part of the efforts have centred upon the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), supported by the Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which for 8 years has been seeking public and private partners to spur ‘Africa’s Green Revolution’.

However the AGRA initiative has drawn criticism for its corporate focus, producing cash-crops that have little effect on the everyday nutrition and hunger of local communities.  Many commentators claim that there is powerful evidence that organic farming practices can produce equal yields and a larger diversity of crops than fertiliser heavy agriculture, reports Morten Thaysen from Global Justice Now.

Considerable evidence also shows that small-holder farmers produce a significant proportion of the world’s food on a fraction of the world’s land.

The debate as to whether agriculture should be small-holder led or corporate-led, is ongoing, but increasingly policy-makers are recognising the importance of small-holder farmers as agents of increased agricultural productivity, report Ventures Africa.


However climatic and environmental factors place constraints on African agriculture, particularly issues of land degradation and local climatic changes. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that in the Sahel around 20 million people face food insecurity, report SciDev.

The UN-Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) conference was held between the 16-18 March and worked towards “evidence-based agricultural policies from scientific results”. CSA encourages policy makers to explore solutions that focus on food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation to develop sustainable landscapes and food systems; full text of the recent CSA report is available here.

However commentators have urged that the discussion be turned into actual initiatives; Allahoury Amadou, a member of the UN high-level panel of experts on food security and nutrition, urged governments to focus on the ability of farmers to produce food rather than taking up more and more time to do further studies.

The AU delegates plan to present the CSA declaration at the next UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris in December.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

East African Community: Climate Smart Agriculture
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue. 9, Pp. 20550A – 20550C

UN Climate Summit: Halting Global Warming
Economic, Financial & Technical
Vol.51, Issue. 9, Pp. 20550C – 20551C

Angola: Agriculture Leads the Way
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.9, Pp. 20553A-20554A

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Nile Basin – Water Politics


Shifting regional politics as the approval of Ethiopian dam and co-operative agreement may signal new directions in dispute over Nile-basin water resources

On March 23rd, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, met in Khartoum and signed an agreement on the ‘Declaration of the Principles’ of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Ethiopia started diverting water from the Blue Nile in 2013 for the construction of the 6000MW dam in the Benishangul region near the Sudanese border. It will be Africa’s largest when completed in 2017, at 1,780 metres long and 145 metres high, costing around US$4.8 billion, reported Al Jazeera.

Egypt, largely reliant on the Nile for water and agriculture, had opposed the proposed dam claiming that it would reduce its already strained water supply and the energy generating capacity of its Aswan dam possibly by 30-40%, reported Al-Monitor.

Under current colonial-era treaties Egypt and Sudan receive the majority of water from the Nile; the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement, was a revision of an earlier English-Egyptian agreement, governing infrastructure projects and water allowances. However while Sudan has supported the GERD, Egypt has often boycotted negotiations. In the past the dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt has degenerated into threats of war.


AFP reported that on March 24th, the day following the meeting in Khartoum, Al-Sisi met with Dessalegn in Addis-Ababa, he explained that “the agreement…represents a positive step on the right path. We’re not going to waste any more time”. This position marks a considerable change from his predecessor Mohamed Morsi, who opposed the “theft of the Nile”.

Rwandan Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana hailed the agreement as “unprecedented historical action… a step towards increased cooperation as well as regional peace and stability”, report the New Times.

In 1999 the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) was founded as a ‘framework for co-operation’ and a ‘regional inter-governmental partnership’ led by Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan Tanzania and Uganda.

However water demands and populations continue to grow; the report by ISS estimates that the Nile basin population will double by 2050. Already existing pressures on the water supply include consumption needs, irrigation, energy demands from hydro-power, and environmental and climatic factors.

In 2010 the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) was introduced to replace the NBI by countries who wanted more access to water and did not want to seek Egypt’s permission before implementing projects on the Nile. It has been signed by Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, while Egypt and Sudan blocked the operationalisation of the agreement, explains the ISS report.

Often the upstream countries have favoured co-operative deals, while downstream countries have stuck to colonial decrees that provided Egypt and Sudan exclusive rights to the water; Egypt opposed the CFA claiming that it would deprive them of their veto power over development projects on the Nile, on which they are much more dependant than ‘upstream’ countries.

Sudan ended a two year boycott of the NBI in 2014 but Egypt continued its stance. Additional confusion as to whether a newly independent South Sudan had any ‘official rights’ to the Nile water led to intense external pressure to ratify the CFA, a move opposed by Egypt. South Sudan however, did not sign the agreement and instead signed a military agreement with Egypt in March 2014, report Le Monde diplomatique.


In recent years the financing arrangements have also changed; funding for infrastructure projects used to come from the Nile Basin Trust Fund (NBTF) managed by the World Bank. Now other investors, largely from China, have allowed governments to push ahead with smaller projects without considering resulting consequences for other countries.

Similarly, recent regional events have made the politic situation increasingly unpredictable; domestic instability in many of the Nile basin countries is rising and tensions between states continue, disputes may be reignited as water sources are strained by plans to turn the Nile into an “axis for development”.

The historical trans-boundary water relations are changing and Egypt’s support for the GERD may signal a shift in direction. Egypt’s State Information Service explained that “the agreement is considered a road map for action in the future as it lays down the bases for maintaining the Egyptian rights and helps promote confidence-building measures within a political, legal and technical framework”.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Egypt-Ethiopia: Nile Dam Problems
Economic, Financial & Technical Series, 
Vol.50, Issue.10, Pp.20154B-20155B

Egypt-Ethiopia: Battle for the Nile
Political, Social & Cultural Series, 
Vol.50, Issue.6, Pp. 19729B-19730B

Nile Basin: Egypt and Sudan Cling to Historic Rights
Political, Social & Cultural Series, 
Vol.47, Issue.5, Pp.18389A-18390A

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