Nile water politics

This NYT article nicely captures the latest on Nile water politics. In sum:
  • The current treaty guaranteeing 80% of the flow to Egypt and Sudan is a legacy of British colonialism

  • Egypt views any reduction of flow to itself and its 80 million people as an existential threat, and rejects any such proposals out of hand

  • Five of the seven upstream countries have signed a new Nile accord which requires a simple majority to approve projects, while Egypt insists on retaining veto rights over any project in any country

  • Egypt believes it has the World Bank in its pocket on dam approvals, but worries that agricultural projects will not only soak up more water but also bring Arab and Chinese investors with their own clout into the fight

  • Experts believe there is large water efficiency upside both upstream and downstream
It's hard not to be sympathetic to the seven countries who are still holding the short end of the stick imperialism handed them; on the other hand, in Egypt it's, if not life and death, a matter of the utmost political importance. Ethiopia's prime minister is right that it's not a zero-sum game, given the efficiency upside, but as in so many other parts of the world, at a market price of free, not enough stakeholders will be incentivized to capture it.

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