Friday, August 14, 2009

Struggle on The Nile: The Countries

This post has nothing to do with the famous 1959 film starring Rushdie Abaza, Omar Al Sharif and Hend Rostom, this post has to do with the current struggle between Egypt and and the rest of the Nile basin countries “except Sudan at least for one” on the Nile water shares. Also this post is long and full of information which I hope you read it till the end without getting bored.
First of all these general information about the Nile , I believe we should know :
The Nile river is considered the longest river in the world where it passes in its journey to the north to the Mediterranean sea by 10 countries in Africa. The Nile has two major tributaries : The White Nile and the Blue Nile ; the most important one of them despite not being the longest is the Blue Nile as it is the source of most of the river’s water and fertile soil.
The white Nile is considered the longest as I mentioned above and the primary source of the Nile and its originated from lake Victoria* in Africa
Here are some photos from lake Victoria
Here is a video from lake Victoria
The Blue Nile as hinted before is considered the source of most of the river’s water and fertile soil. The Blue Nile originates from lake Tana in Ethiopia. Here are some very beautiful shots for lake Tana I am sure that most of you have not seen before.
Here is an interesting clip from the BBC by Michael Palin from lake Tana
Michael Palin at lake Tana
Also here is a special feature about the Blue Nile from the National geographic magazine.
Blue Nile
The Nile basin countries aka indigo countries as we learnt in the school are : Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania,Uganda,Burundi,Congo,Eritrea ,Kenya,Sudan and Egypt.  As you can most of the Nile basin countries except Tanzania , Kenya and Egypt suffer from time to time from political unrests that may reach to civil wars , genocides and even wars between each other.
Also there is no need to hint out that Egypt is associated more than any country even Sudan with the Nile; Herodotus was wrong when he said that Egypt was the gift of the Nile “despite I believe it was the gift of Egyptians too”
Second here are some important statistical information :
  • The population of Ethiopia is about 86 million and despite being the the “Water Tower” of Eastern Africa , Ethiopia uses 1% of its 14 major rivers for power production and 1.5% from all those rivers for irrigation. Ethiopia's economy is based on agriculture which accounts for 46.3% of the GDP , 60% of exports and 80% of total employment. Despite what you may think Ethiopia can breadbasket much of Europe if her agriculture is better organized according to the New York times. 90% of the electricity needs in Ethiopia comes from the hydropower.  Here is a list of some of the hydropower stations in Ethiopia.
  • The population of Tanzania is about 40 million and more than half of the Tanzania's GDP depends on agriculture. 81.1% of the energy there is hydro powered ; here is a list of hydroelectric power stations in the country
  • The population of Uganda which is from the poorest countries in the world is about 31 million. Even though that most labor force works in agriculture “82%” , the agriculture sector consists 29.4% coming at the second place after services in the Ugandan economy. Most areas in Uganda depend on rain for irrigation. ‘Check Agriculture in Uganda’. 99% of the energy in the country depends on the hydropower  and there are even more potential for Uganda to use that important source of energy. Here is a list of some of the hydroelectric power stations in Uganda , some of these stations are still under construction.
  • The population of Burundi is about 8 million. The very troubled poor country depends mainly on agriculture which constitutes 51% of the GDP. About 90% of the population work in agriculture. Burundi mainly depend on hydropower energy and for about 99.4%
  • The population of Kenya is about 38 million. The economy of Kenya is from the most promising and developing economies among the Nile basin countries. Agriculture dominates the Kenyan economy coming in the second place after  the service in the GDP despite the fact that only 15% of the Kenya’s total land has sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed and only 8% of the land can be classified as first class land.  In 2006 about 75% of the working population made their living on agriculture compared to 80% in 1980 which is not a surprise as Kenya is the fastest industrialist country in Africa.17%of electricity supply comes from hydroelectric stations at dams along the Tana River.
  • The population of Eritrea is about 5 million. The economy of the very poor country still depends on agriculture as in 2003. 80% of the population worked in agriculture despite the fact it accounts only 12.4 of the GDP. The farmers there are largely dependent on rain fed agriculture and thus multi-year drought and the absence of modern water storage contribute negatively if not deadly to agriculture there. It is important to mention that the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia led to more obstacles in front that vital sector in the country ; the spread of landmines and the displacement of 1 million Eritreans led to 1/4 of the country’s most productive land has remained unoccupied. Eritrea does not depend on hydroelectric energy.
  • The population of Congo is 66 million. Its economy of course is badly affected with its unstable political unrest. Despite being very rich in mineral and nature resources agriculture is still the backbone of the economy rather constituting about 57.9% of the GDP. The country has a lot of potentials in agriculture unlike other countries in Africa yet it suffers from bad transportation system. Congo has one dam ; the Inga Dam which is on the Congo River
  • The population of Rwanda is 10 million. Again another war torn very poor country with 90% of the population engage in a very simple agriculture activities. Among the Nile basin countries Rwanda is the poorest among the resources.
  • The population Sudan is 39 million. 80% of the working population work in agriculture which constitutes 39% of the GDP. The land in Sudan is from the most fertile land in the Nile valley. It is enough that many investors now in Egypt head to Sudan to buy land there.  48% of the energy in Sudan is produced by hydropower energy.Here is a list of the hydroelectric power stations in our sister country Sudan including the controversial Merowe dam.
  • The population of Egypt is about 82 millions who live in a very tiny stripped valley with a limited arable land that is diminishing year after year with. Agriculture is among the pillars of our economy. All Egyptian agriculture takes place in 6 million acres in the Nile valley and in Delta. I will not elaborate more about Egypt ; our only hydroelectric power station is Aswan Dam :)
By all measures the poor management of water and agricultural planning in most of the Nile basin countries make them lose the benefit of having the river Nile not to mention some of them have other water sources from other rivers and lakes unlike Egypt whose only water source is the Nile.
I will stop here and continue insh Allah tomorrow , just few hours to be accurate with the part dealing with the treaties , the heart of the problem or the crisis we have here in our part of the world

* It was used to be known as Ismail Lake tribute to Khedive Ismail.

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