Hydropolitics of the Nile: The case of Ethiopia and Egypt

This article analyses the political relationship between Ethiopia and Egypt. It aims to provide an analytical framework to unpack this complex relationship and assess the impacts that the Nile River has on the nature of this relationship. It further identifies geopolitical factors determining the impacts of the Nile River on frameworks of actions and political opportunity structures in which political actors operate. Accordingly, the different combinations of these determinants lead to the formation of political actors and ensuing actions that can fuel conflict, sustain the status quo or build peace. The article seeks to provide tentative answers to the following questions: what can be done or what mechanisms might be used to reduce the risk of conflict? What parties should participate and what will be their roles? And how can modern technology and science contribute to a possible solution?


It is widely recognised in the literature that natural resources play a key role in fostering development in peaceful societies; yet the political significance of resources may be far more prominent in contexts of instability. The transnational nature of politicised resources yields a higher degree of public action across different countries. Different understandings of the rights to natural resources, and responses and counter-responses, may lead to conflict, sustain the status quo or promote peace. However, rarely are the implications of context on infrastructural development openly acknowledged and taken into account. Yet any study of the role of natural resources in conflict-ridden areas in sub-Saharan Africa should account for the role and implications of context. Hence, a first variable in our analysis of the Nile River’s role in heightening tension between upper riparian states and downstream countries is the context within which the analysis operates. Several core contextual questions need to be raised and brought to the fore at the outset. Within this context, this article explores how the Nile River affects the political relationship between Egypt and Ethiopia and the wider Nile River basin

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