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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Issues in Development: The Development and Prosperity of the Nile Basin National as between Historial Rights and Comparative Advantage (4-4)

Before dwelling on the subject of this last column, one really assumes that the leaders of the Nile Basin Nations are rational enough and honest enough to take at heart  the interest of the people who are under their  responsibility. That might not be true in real life but one hopes that there will come a time when these rulers will have to realize that they have to listen genuine advice and that they will not survive without the survival of their own stock.
The call by the President of Egypt referred to earlier is a most recent call by the head of an important NB nation. Whether it is meant for serious intent or for local consumption does not really matter. It could be taken seriously since Egypt and Sudan are major members  who did not sign the Entebbe agreement to review historical rights. Moreover, it seems clear that previous projects in the Nile Basin did not  materialize enough. Therefore, the intention is to provide an overall view of what should be started in the form of a Nile Basin Plan (NBP) which will take into consideration  planning for all the agricultural resources of the NB Nations as well as the water needs of each member for all uses. For that purpose a Planning Commission (PC) should established to undertake such jobs.  It will be similar to the usual plans applied by many African countries but this will at the level of NB Nations.
Two  layers at the top are required one which will consist of the representatives of the NB Nations which will be responsible for drafting  the overall policy  as desired by the NB Nations. The second will consist of top African technicians in the area of planning in addition some other international experts who believe in planning as  a way to development. The third level will consist of various departments which will enable the second level in concretizing the various targets of the NB Nations. The  third level can be manned by technicians from Africa as well as other LD Countries.
The modus operandi of the whole exercise is work on the basis of establishing development projects in complete partnership among the NB Nations. For example if Sudan has an advantage in producing Wheat on the large scale then instead of giving large tracts of land to investors as is happening at the moment say for 99 years, could provide cultivable land in a partnership with the resources of other members for example labour from Egypt or from Ethiopia. It should then be allowed the required water needs for growing Wheat. Financing could come from the countries themselves in addition to the possibility of resources from the African Development Bank as well as from friendly countries  from Asia or Europe either directly or in partnership. The production can then be given to the NB Nations on favourable terms as well as exporting the surplus  to other needy countries.
To simplify the issue whatever is usually done at the national level in a NB Nation, could be projected to the regional level of all NB Nations and so on. Such an exercise might appear as a difficult task to achieve but one should not forget that the Niles and the Greater Nile are the life line of all these countries and the source of their survival as long as it keeps flowing and as long there are people who live on it. No one nation can claim rights on it but has to be allowed to use it for various human purposes.
If we can plan in a rational manner to make use of our natural resources and combine such resources with this life line then we stand to gain .Otherwise we stand to lose. This is to my simple thinking is one way through which we can achieve what the President of Egypt called for. If we succeed the there will be more confidence among the NB Nations and gradually there will be less worry about historical rights which had been the source of  evil conflicts all through our living memory. Otherwise only Allah (sawt)  knows what can befall the countries of the NB Nations!!!