Geopolitics in East Africa

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Vibbz
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Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Vibbz » Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:26 pm

On Youtube there is a channel called Rare Earth that does some interesting mini-documentaries. I linked a video below that talks about the damming of the Nile river in Ethiopia. Ethiopia faces a lot of electrical issues like many developing nations. This new dam should provide a lot of the electrical needs for Ethiopia. In addition, the dam should create a resavior and prevent some flooding. This would provide quite a bit of water for drinking and agriculture. One major issue is that Egypt historically and currently depends on the Nile flooding to provide nutrients and water to farms not only by the river but also further inland. Egypt is of course not very happy with Ethiopia plans for this river. Do you know anything more about this project? Do you think that Egypt is overreacting and the benefits not only for Ethiopia but Sudan and Egypt outweigh the concerns? Perhaps, Egypt isn't happy because it puts them in a dependent position?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW5s16nqBPw

In addition, regarding early retirement. How should people plan where they live making sure the have future proof basic resources. Maybe living in the middle of a desert or an area that makes basic resources such as energy and water hard to find bad. Singapore and Hong Kong anyone?

IlliniDave
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:00 pm

I've seen it argued that Egypt has "profited" for millennia from the human (mis)management of the land upstream. All the silt they count on for their agriculture is due to erosion, likely predominantly caused by human activity. I don't know much about the project you mention but I suspect Ethiopia, along with other up areas upstream along the Nile and its tributarios would be best served by altering land management to curb erosion, which would also impact agriculture in Northern Egypt. Looking at a map, one tributary of the Nile originates in Ethiopia, the Blue Nile. The other, the White Nile, originates in Uganda and joins the Blue Nile in Sudan. So Ethiopia wouldn't be controlling the entire flow of the Nile. I don't know if one or the other of the main tributaries is a more significant contributor to the carrying of silt to Egypt's agricultural areas.

Vibbz
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Vibbz » Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:39 pm

Well the Blue Nile accounts for about 90% of the flow and 96% of the sediment in the lower Nile. Source:https://web.archive.org/web/20060928124 ... T1-026.pdf
While the White Nile is important, the Blue Nile has a much larger impact on the Nile both in flow and fertility. I can't imagine that Egypt with around 95% of the population living along the Nile will accept such a change. The Nile is the lifeline of Egypt. While there may be a point about mismanagement in Ethiopia, I don't think that Egypt cares about fairness when the most important geographical feature in their country and basically the only reason they can exist is even slightly threatened.

I worry that there might be some military action taken around the dam.

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Ego
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Ego » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:18 am

Vibbz wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:26 pm
In addition, regarding early retirement. How should people plan where they live making sure the have future proof basic resources. Maybe living in the middle of a desert or an area that makes basic resources such as energy and water hard to find bad. Singapore and Hong Kong anyone?
Strange coincidence. I've been reading abut desaliniation for the past few days after visiting the Dead Sea and learning about the Red Dead project. Desalination is booming in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Israel produce most of their water using the process. The Red Sea will use the wastewater brine to refill the sinking Dead Sea while producing drinking water for Jordan. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has similar plans in California which they say will pull water from the Sea of Cortez and desalinate it using geothermal energy then use the brine to refill the sinking Salton Sea. While current systems use a ton of energy, Saudi Arabia is in the process of installing solar powered desaliniation plants on an industrial scale.

How this plays out for poorer countries like Egypt and especially landlocked Ethiopia with no seawater to draw from will be interesting. Wealthier countries have a motivation to help provide water to their poorer neighbors to avoid an influx of refugees but it usually takes a crisis to make that happen and there is a long lead time for new projects.

Vibbz
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Vibbz » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:28 am

Ego wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:18 am
Strange coincidence. I've been reading abut desaliniation for the past few days after visiting the Dead Sea and learning about the Red Dead project. Desalination is booming in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Israel produce most of their water using the process. The Red Sea will use the wastewater brine to refill the sinking Dead Sea while producing drinking water for Jordan
Hmm. I remember reading about the concerns regarding the desalinsation plants already functioning in Israel dumping the by salt wastewater back into the Mediterranean and the ecological worries. I had wondered why they didn't just dump it into the Dead Sea. I didn't know that Jordan was pursuing such a massive project. $10 billion dollars is quite a lot of money. Good luck to them. I guess we should invest in water.

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Ego
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Ego » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:46 am

Vibbz wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:28 am
I guess we should invest in water.
Do you have access to my search history? :lol:

The Spanish company Acciona seems to be everywhere.
https://www.acciona.us/projects/water/d ... on-plants/
Last edited by Ego on Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

Vibbz
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Vibbz » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:48 am

@Ego

Thanks! Don't mind if I yoink that company. ;D

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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Solvent » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:39 am

Yeah, it's an interesting situation. I heard for a while that there were serious fears that Egypt would actually try to bomb the site. I don't know how serious those fears were - my guess is that the Ethiopian military seriously considered it, the Egyptians, I couldn't guess.

A while back the lead engineer for the dam was assassinated near Meskel Square, which is right in the heart of town. Of course, suspicions were immediately raised about Egypt's involvement. I also heard, however, that the reason was more that he had deep insights into government corruption surrounding the project and was considering going public with these insights. Again, I'm just passing on what I've heard - I don't read or speak Amharic, and it's not as though there's much of a culture of investigative journalism here anyway.

Regarding the construction, I don't think there's been too significant involvement of foreign actors or aid agencies. There could be any number of reasons for this. Political sensitivities, perhaps. One plausible rumour is that the government desired to build a massive damn to create more hydropower, but the international advisers they had on hand were claiming that there'd be too much environmental damage, and too much water lost to evaporation, to make it a good idea. They may have recommended a smaller project, but the Ethiopians went ahead with a larger one. This could also be cause for distress in Egypt. Although the Ethiopians are telling them that after the dam fills, flows will return to normal, I think everyone doubts that - the large reservoirs created by dams do lose water to evaporation, after all. In the OP you asked if Egypt is overreacting - I think certainly not. This dam creates big and reasonable worries for Egypt.

The stance of Sudan, as I understand it, is also somewhat mercurial. With Bashir recently being deposed, I don't think their stance on the matter is likely to get clearer, but any position is also less likely to matter as their focus will be on not descending into complete anarchy as Libya has. Again, not an expert in these matters, but my understanding is that Sudan's position on the dam has ebbed and flowed based on who most recently influenced/offered them something.

In these situations I'm always interested to see how the status quo bias affects our judgement. Of course this dam may create big problems for Egypt - but just because the prevailing status quo was better for Egyptians doesn't necessarily mean it's the best outcome, right? A concept that's relatively new in development is the 'right to development'. Basically, international norms, strictures, treaties etc. shouldn't hinder a country's efforts to improve its development prospects. But pretty much all rights come at a cost, often to other actors. Ethiopia has a right to develop, but how much should Egypt, specifically, have to pay for that? And yes, power is certainly a problem. Even in the capital, which one would think should have the best power supply in the country, I lose power probably four to six times per week, more often in rainy season. Usually the power goes out for one to eight hours at a time. This is in the heart of built-up Addis Ababa. Of course it could feasibly be grid issues as much as generation capacity issues, I couldn't say for sure.

fiby41
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by fiby41 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:06 am

It's almost as if it'd have been better if both ends and banks of river Nile were inside one country. Instead of the horizontal line intersecting perpendicularly at Libya.
Sudan is between Ethiopia and Egypt, what does it have to say on this?

Also see: The Indus water treaty. Of all the things India and Pakistan have fought wars over, water has yet not been one.

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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Solvent » Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:26 pm

If all of the Nile was one country, though, there'd be plenty of other issues to worry about :? . Even Sudan couldn't hold itself together. Trying to imagine Mediterranean Egypt and highland Ethiopia as a single country makes my head hurt.

TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Tue May 14, 2019 12:11 pm

@Solvent:
What do you think about possibility of the East African Federation?
It is not part of the Horn of Africa region but still East Africa. It seems interesting concept, however it is highly doubted by some online commenters. I have not been able to talk to many people from the region here in Estonia; most Africans seem to be from Ghana and Nigeria.

Solvent
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Solvent » Fri May 17, 2019 9:15 am

Ideas of African federations are common among the intellectual class and the dreamers of the continent. They've been around since the independence movements. Agenda 2063 actually has a 'united Africa', as a federation or confederation, as one of its goals. Now, implementation is of course the challenge - and seeing institutional progress on the continent is painful. But the fact that it's a dream that is ever-present in continental discourse, makes me think that it could happen. Just, y'know... Wait fifty years or so.

East Africa has visa-free movement of people, to some extent, I mean in practice border controls can still be a bit onerous - most African states have very serious fears of terrorism that can result in a lot of scrutiny of travellers. There are still civil wars in Africa, and anything that facilitates the movement of guerillas, rebel forces, etc., across borders will always be looked at with suspicion. Historically and culturally the nations looking at East African federation share quite a lot, but I query South Sudan's prospects for inclusion, as it seems an odd one out. So I think ideas of a federation are realistic, but progress towards it will probably continue to be glacial. Also, so what? As the wiki mentions, Nigeria is still bigger - and Nigeria, while an economic powerhouse on the continent, on a world stage is not a 'player' on many important stages. An East African federation, as the sum of its parts, will not eliminate its constituent members' problems by becoming a bigger state.

As for federations, a number of Africans look to the EU's model of integration as something to draw ideas from, and especially the Euro project. This is understandable. Speaking from an economic point of view, I find the idea of these giant currency areas to be somewhat silly. But, as with the Euro, these are political, not economic projects. @Wandering Scholar, since you're in the Euro area you'd surely have an understanding of the pros and significant cons of the single currency area. In West and Central Africa these joint currencies are already a big cause of concern, but some want to extend these things over the whole continent... Can you imagine South Africa and Mauritania sharing a currency?

TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Fri May 17, 2019 3:44 pm

@Solvent:
Ha, yeah agreed about the EU sharing a currency and issues with that. These issues would greatly expand in a situation with Mauritania and South Africa sharing a currency alongside Egypt and Libya.

But yeah, I was thinking of the same lines: federation within Africa are possible, but more on the regional level, with a Pan-African Union being 22nd (realistic) or 23rd century (pessimistic) possibility, depending on whether humanity and civilizations collapses rebuilds, and depending on what everyone thinks of each other.

Solvent
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Solvent » Sat May 18, 2019 3:34 am

https://www.reuters.com/article/ethiopi ... SL5N22T560

Water levels currently so low in Ethiopia's dams, due to lack of rain, that there is a production deficit of >400 MW. The country will start rationing power across the capital. Every district can expect to be without power for 1/3rd of the day.

TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sat May 18, 2019 7:34 am

Has Ethiopia started building any infrastructure for solar panels, via international grants or the like? It would seem useful, especially with climate change affecting water levels, therefore in this case energy production.

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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Stonis33 » Wed May 29, 2019 1:26 am

I've seen it contended that Egypt has "benefitted" for centuries from the human (mis)management of the land upstream. All the sediment they rely on for their horticulture is because of disintegration, likely dominatingly brought about by human action. I don't think a lot about the venture you notice yet I speculate Ethiopia, alongside other up territories upstream along the Nile and its tributarios would be best served by modifying land the executives to control disintegration, which would likewise affect horticulture in Northern Egypt.

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Re: Geopolitics in East Africa

Post by Solvent » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:05 am

I was reminded of this solar panel question last night. (Short) story time.

The power blackouts continue, but I noticed the largest intersection I pass through on the way to work has had its traffic lights out for a solid week - and it doesn't seem connected to the power cuts, it's just out 24/7. I pointed this out to a friend and he said to me yeah, they've converted some of the traffic lights to run on solar. So driving home last night I looked more closely and sure enough, solar panels up around the intersection. All well and good, I suppose, if they were actually working. I mean there's a lot of sunlight, I don't have doubts about solar panels themselves. But in countries with broken institutions, the problems go deep.

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