The Nile Contention: When the State Calls the Civil Society: Case Study of Ethiopia and Egypt

In April 2011, an Egyptian delegation of popular diplomacy visited Addis Ababa to promote Egyptian relations with Ethiopia. This visit has taken place after the January 25 revolution. In the same month, Ethiopia announced the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. In order to finance the dam, the government has mobilized its diaspora community to purchase bonds issued for supporting the construction of the dam. Since 2011, both regimes in Egypt and in Ethiopia have been in transition that has encouraged the civil society participation in the Nile politics together with the officials and technocrats who used to dominate the issue of the Nile water management. For Egypt, the January revolution has opened the public arena for civil society in general. Building up community dialogues with other Nile peoples became a possible sphere where different forms of civil society were then able to participate and specially within enjoying the state blessing. On the other side, the GERD is considered in Ethiopia as a key component in economic transition because water is an initial natural resource to generate energy for strategic development plans. Aside from the Ethiopian and Egyptian governments’ inducement of the civic engagement in the Nile issue for different purposes, it is an opportunity for the civil society to consolidate its roots in the political system though the political systems are not tolerant enough with civil society. Accordingly, this paper aims to explore the states’ causes and tools to allow their peoples to have voice in the Nile politics, to assess the forms of civic engagement in the Nile management and to identify which form is able to attain a meaningful influence in the Nile management.

Beer Rabei Youness . Faculty of Economics and Political Science – Cairo University  .

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