No doubt natural resources are the key to integration.

In the article dated, i asserted that natural resources could be the key to African integration. It is this communal acceptance of these gifts of nature that brought about civilization as we know it today. I further argued the need to harmonize the laws to allow projects that could benefit all countries that depend on that natural resource. For instance the GERD could power the entire Nile Valley.

To fully be endowed in this conversation i would suggest you read through the previous article by clicking the above link.

The 1959 treaty gives exclusive rights to only Egypt and Sudan. The treaty was gotten into shortly after the free officers seized power in Egypt after they embarked on a project to build the high dam on the Nile. Before this could be achieved an agreement had to be signed by both states of Sudan and Egypt because the project would impact/ affect populations settling along the river bank in Sudan. An estimated 170km along the Nile valley up to the contour line of 182 meter above sea level.

This agreement was significant in that both parties acquired present rights of usage of up to 48 Malians of cubic meters of water for Egypt and 4 milliards of cubic meters for Sudan measured annually. There were multiple benefits agreed by either states but one very interesting feature of the agreement was the Annexure 1 a special provision for the water loan required by the United Arab Republic. Sudan agrees to give Egypt a water loan to help it expand its agricultural projects.

At this point water a natural resource which neither of these countries have control of with regards to the source becomes a commercial commodity that is subject to be loaned at one party’s peril. This only clearly shows how Egypt is very vulnerable at the hands of the other countries that hold an upper hand with regards to the Nile and its waters. No wander they are so critical and involved in Ethiopia’s interests and projects yet international law with regards to sovereignty and interference is clear.

Egypt refused to sign the 2010 Nile treaty that was signed by the upper riparian states in 2010 (The cooperative Frame Work Agreement) a Nile Basin initiative. This was meant to replace the previous treaties that did not involve other riparian states and was only endorsed by six upstream countries namely, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi. Egypt objected to specifically three articles which is ironic because article 14 A and B which they objected centers on water security. It provides that “the Nile basin countries agree to work together to ensure that all states achieve and sustain water security.”

Egypt further argued in contention that the decisions in the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) had to be made by unanimity not majority on the grounds that the upstream countries out number their downstream counter parts.

Also the provision on prior notice was objected as Egypt argued that it should be mandatory for the upstream counterparts to notify the downstream countries of any projects on the Nile so that they too can assess the impact of its outcome.

With this long line of history in treaties, agreements and conflicts about the Nile. It is clear that Egypt will do whatever it takes or can to secure its interests and will not allow to be bullied or considered an underdog in this matter. The Egyptian government carried out its investigations and recommended changing and amending dimensions of the dam. (GERD)

It is even alleged that the Egyptian government has been supporting rebel fronts to destabilize Ethiopia. Dispute over the waters and the Dam escalated earlier this year as the Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah lamented on a water war that would be very horrible if it were sparked.

On 8th July 2021 the UN Security Council held a meeting/ session discussing the dispute over the damn. Not to undermine the United Nations, its position and role in keeping world order, I find this troublesome because African issues should be resolved internally if it’s a sustainable conclusion that we seek.

International statutes were formulated to curb such situations, the Vienna convention on the law of treaties for instance covers rules with regards to third party states. 

Article 34 of the Vienna convention provides that a treaty does not create either rights or obligations for a third state without its consent. In this regard Ethiopia and Egypt are not blinded by any treaty that halts them from carrying out projects on the Nile alley located in their territory. As a matter of treaty law, this principle admits of no exceptions in the case of obligations although this is without prejudice to the principle that certain obligations stipulated in a treaty may blind third states independently as rules of customary international law.

Article 35 allows states to bind itself to a treaty through collateral agreement whereby it accepts an obligation or obligations under the treaty

Article 36 deals with the converse case of rights arising for a third state under the treaty in which case two conditions must be satisfied prima facie;

  1. The parties to the treaty must have intended the provision to accord and counter that right upon the third state or to a group of states to which it belongs on to all states.
  2. The third state must have assented thereto assent being presumed so long as the contrary is not indicated unless the treaty has provided otherwise.

Article 38 preserves the principle that rules contained in the treaty may become binding upon third states as rules of customary international law recognized as such.

National competition over shared water resources can prompt fears of water issues that can escalate into violence. In the past and in recent times it is evident that conflicts have been emerging over the Nile river delta, this is expected given the fact that over 280 million people rely n the Nile for water. And despite the rich cultural history of the Nile basin its inhabitants are ravished with challenges of poverty, instability, rapid population growth, environmental degradation, drought and famine.

The Nile covers a distance of 6,700 km over 35 degrees of latitude. It drains an area basin of about 3,350,000 sq km stretching over ten east- central and north east African countries. Since many countries benefit from its waters its only logical that there should be an understanding of how it can be utilized to benefit all. The supposed stand off or conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia is just one of the many more conflicts that can be sparked off or even escalate into a deadly war.

Integration is most definitely a solution, because with this member states will not think of individuality but rather also consider the effects of their actions on other member states. If these natural resources are shared proportionately the chances of such conflicts are low.

I would like to pause this question, what should lead or be the baseline for integration? should we wait till we politically integrate before we can enact laws that benefit our people, or should we harmonize these laws to ease economic activities, improve trade between societies and champion integration.

these natural resources play a very key role in the lives of the common man and it is to these benefits that they generally draw from them, that they can see how more alike they are than the differences they absorb with the nationality per take of the individual nations.

lets keep the fire burning.


Published by Thomas Lamony

Lawyer, Writer, Environmentalist, APS/Special Duties-State House Uganda, Artist of the mind. "There is no end to the writing and reading of books, neither is there an end to human evolution." The mind is a kitchen, cook something.

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