Egypt & The Nile countries

Updated: Feb 20

Egypt is first and foremost Known as the Nile-Land. However, Egypt is not the only Nile-land. The Nile is not only Egypt. There are 10 other African countries who are also Nile-Lands. The Nile River flows through eleven countries (Burundi, DRCongo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan,Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda). The Nile basin comprises two broad sub-systems, these are the Eastern Nile sub-system and the Equatorial Nile sub-system. The basin was delineated into ten sub-basins (Main Nile, Atbara, Blue Nile, White Nile, Baro-Akobo-Sobat, Bahr El Jebel, Bahr El Ghazal, Lake Albert, Victoria Nile, Lake Victoria). These sub-basins featured five broad physiographic regions with diverse topography, drainage patterns and geomorphology.

Nile basin countries - Tularosa Basin 2017

More than 300 million people rely on the waters of the River Nile. The Nile river basin contains over 10% of Africa’s landmass, in 11 countries: Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Egypt, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Kenya. Many of these countries rely almost exclusively on the Nile as their source of freshwater. By 2024, a 4,000 kilometers waterway will connect ten African countries, stretching between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea. An Egypt-led project, the navigational shipping line is to be established along the Nile River for small and medium-size commercial vessels to boost bilateral trade.

Egyptian Minister of Water and Irrigation Moahmed Abdel Aty announced the completion of an annual report which highlights the results of the early stages of the feasibility studies. Egypt signed a feasibility studies contract with a German-Belgian international consultancy office, using $650,000 in funding from the African Development Bank, after having completed a pre-feasibility study in May 2015, which cost $500,000. The 12 billion USD line originally incorporated nine countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. Despite political strife with Egypt over its Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia decided in January to jump aboard the project.

There is an obvious link between the Congo River and the River Nile that is hardly mentioned when people talk about Egypt.

The Congo-Nile divide

The Congo-Nile Divide (or Nile Congo Watershed) is the continental divide that separates the drainage basins of the Nile and Congo rivers. It is about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) long. There are several geologically and geographically distinct sections between the point on the border between the Central African Republic and South Sudan where the Nile and Congo basins meet the Chad Basin, and the southern point in Tanzania to the southwest of Lake Victoria where the boundaries of the Nile and Congo basins diverge.

The people who live along the divide are diverse, mainly speaking Central Sudanic languages in the northern parts and Bantu languages further south.

The European colonialists used the Congo-Nile divide as a boundary between British-controlled territories to the east and territories controlled by the French and Belgians to the west. This was decided at a time when few Europeans had visited the area, which had yet to be mapped. It separated members of the ethnic groups that live on both sides of the divide.

Egypt’s 'Lost Dream' of Linking Congo, Nile Rivers

Linking the Nile to the Congo river has always been the lost dream of Egyptians to achieve water security and provide necessary water allocations for the development of projects, be they agricultural or industrial. The idea was first seriously explored in 1980 during the administration of the late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat. Sadat sent an expedition to the Congo to prepare a conceptualization of the project. However, the idea had first emerged in 1902, and was mentioned in a book written by Apata Basha, Egypt’s former chief irrigation engineer in Sudan.

However, this idea died with the death of Apata, as did the conceptualization of the project with the 1981 demise of Sadat and the arrival of President Hosni Mubarak to power in Egypt. Moreover, successive governments have always found excuses to shun the implementation of the project. This dream kept recurring from time to time in the minds of Egyptians. Yet, crises have intensified between Egypt and Ethiopia and the countries with the rest of equatorial headwaters of the Nile, either because of the redistribution of water allocations, or because of Ethiopia's set of dams to control the Blue Nile, which provides Egypt with 85% of its water.

The Ethiopian Dam is nearly complete and operational as of 2020, we'll let the future judge on how the situation will evolve between the 11 neighbors.

Article credit: Françoise Marie from Quora


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