THE NILE RIVER POLITICS-Uganda vs Upstream States

Sigrún Albert
4 min readApr 16, 2017


How effective are the treaties that were signed by the colonialists and slave masters?


Does construction of a power dam reduce the amount of water in a river?

Egypt’s : Yes, a lot.
Sudan. : Why not

S.Sudan: Not really
Ethiopia: Not at all
Uganda : No
Me. : Ethiopia just finished building one
already. Let’s wait and see the effects.

Britain: umm… You see… we signed treaties…

The Nile River has been at the center of political controversy for more than a century. There are
four major tributaries to the Nile, three of which originate from Ethiopia — the Blue Nile, Sobat and Atbara. It’s reported that these 3 tributaries supply about 86 percent of the waters of the Nile.

There is a claim that Ancient Egypt has a natural historical right on the Nile River, and principles of its acquired rights have been a focal point of negotiations with upstream states. The fact that this claim still exists means that any perceived reduction of the Nile water supply to Egypt is tampering with its national security and thus could trigger potential conflict, as witnessed on occasions where Egypt has threatened to go to war with: Tanzania, my dear Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan over activities on the Nile River.

But just how exactly did Egypt get all the authority to deny upstream countries the right to use their water. Here is a list of treaties that give Egypt all the power over the Nile.

*.April 15, 1891 — Article III of the Anglo-Italian Protocol. Article III states that “the Italian government engages not to construct on the Atbara River, in view of irrigation, any work which might sensibly modify its flow into the Nile”.
But the language used in this article was too vague to provide clear property rights or rights to the use of water.

*.May 15, 1902 — Article III of the treaty between Great Britain and Ethiopia. Article three states “His Majesty the Emperor Menilik II, King of Kings of Ethiopia, engages himself towards the Government of His Britannic Majesty not to construct or allow to be constructed any work across the Blue Nile, Lake Tana, or the Sobat, which would arrest the flow of their waters except in agreement with His Britannic Majesty’s Government and the Government of Sudan” This agreement has become one of the most contested agreements over the use of the Nile waters.

*.May 9, 1906 — Article III of theAgreement between Britain and the Government of the Independent State of the Congo. Article III states “The Government of the independent state of the Congo undertakes not to construct, or allow to be constructed, any work over or near the Semliki or Isango river which would diminish the volume of water entering Lake Albert except in agreement with the Sudanese Government”. Belgium signed this agreement on behalf of the Congo despite the agreement favoring only the downstream users of the Nile waters and restricting the people of the Congo from accessing their part of the Nile.

*.December 13, 1906 — Article 4(a) of the Tripartite Treaty (Britain-France-Italy). Article 4(a) states “To act together… to safeguard; … the interests of Great Britain and Egypt in the Nile Basin, more especially as regards the regulation of the waters of that river and its tributaries (due consideration being paid to local interests) without prejudice to Italian interests”. This treaty, in effect, denied Ethiopia its sovereign right over the use of its own water. Ethiopia has rejected.

*.The 1925 exchange of notes between Britain and Italy concerning Lake Tana which states “…Italy recognizes the prior hydraulic rights of Egypt and the Sudan… not to construct on the head waters of the Blue Nile and the White Nile (the Sobat) and their tributaries and effluents any work which might sensibly modify their flow into the main river.” Ethiopia opposed the agreement and notified both parties of its objections.

*.May 7, 1929 — The Agreement between Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. This agreement included:*.Egypt and Sudan utilize 48 and 4 billion cubic meters of the Nile flow per year, respectively;*.The flow of the Nile during January 20 to July 15 (dry season) would be reserved for Egypt;*.Egypt reserves the right to monitor the Nile flow in the upstream countries;
Egypt assumed the right to undertake Nile river related projects without the consent of upstream states.

*.The 1959 Nile Waters Agreement between the Sudan and Egypt for full control utilization of the Nile waters. The agreement allowed the entire average annual flow of the Nile to be shared among the Sudan and Egypt at 18.5 and 55.5 billion cubic meters, respectively. The cost and benefit of same to be divided equally between them. If claim would come from the remaining riparian countries over the Nile water resource, both the Sudan and Egypt shall, together, handle the claims.*.If the claim prevails and the Nile water has to be shared with another riparian state, that allocated amount would be deducted from the Sudan’s and Egypt’s and allocations/shares in equal parts of Nile volume measured at Aswan.*.The agreement granted Egypt the right to construct the Aswan High Dam that can store the entire annual Nile River flow of a year.*.It granted the Sudan to construct the Rosaries Dam on the Blue Nile and, to develop other irrigation and hydroelectric power generation until it fully utilizes its Nile share.

Originally published at on April 16, 2017.



Sigrún Albert

'Bamparampa' single now out. This shit is Local!