Transboundary resource utilization and its influence on interstate relations: the case of River Nile and Kenya-Egypt relations

This study examined the impact of the River Nile on the bilateral relations between Kenya and Egypt. It sought to address the following research questions: to what extent are the bilateral relations between Kenya and Egypt influenced by their access to and sharing. of the waters of the Nile? How viable are the existing mechanisms in facilitating equity of access to the waters by the two states? What does the commonality in the Nile portend for the future prospects of cooperation or conflict for Kenya and Egypt?

The study was guided by the key assumption that the domestic policies, relating to the use of the Nile waters, formulated by Kenya and Egypt run parallel to the national interests of each other thus impacting on their bilateral interactions. The second assumption is that the existing mechanisms on right to access and use of the Nile waters pose a challenge to Kenya-Egypt relations. The third assumption is that the prospects for peace and co-operation are high for Kenya-and Egypt.

An understanding of respective states' pursuit of national interests was anchored on the theory of Realism. Regime theory provided a guide to the study in so far as exploring prospects for cooperation is concerned. Data for the study was derived from interviews and discussions with key informants from relevant government ministries and the Egyptian embassy as well as from library research and reference to official government documents.

The study established that the strategic interests that Kenya and Egypt have in the River Nile have played a critical role in determining the character of their relations. Kenya seeks to increase its access and exploit its potential in the waters of the Nile, but Egypt seeks to maintain the status quo anchored on earlier agreements that give it the upper hand in control, access and utilisation of the Nile waters. The Nile is Egypt's lifeline and matter of national security to which previous declarations over the threat of a future war have been made. However, this study established that, concerted efforts are presently in place to ensure that this does not tum into a truism. Indeed more collaborative initiatives are being witnessed in the Nile basin although total co-operation has not been achieved especially from key downstream states.

It has recommended the establishment of a framework within the CF A that would put emphasis on the protection of the Nile water resource in a bid to guarantee its sustainability. This responsibility should be taken up by all the riparian states. This study also put emphasis on the importance of national water storage policies to be adopted by respective riparian states to enhance citizens' access to water even during periods of scarcity. Finally, the study has highlighted the importance of adaptive strategies to the two states under study, if they are to counter the effects of climate change which have a bearing on the quality and quantity of the waters of the river Nile.