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The George Washington University

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies


This study examined the geopolitical relations of the Nile Basin by looking at Uganda as a case study, and analyzed Uganda’s use and development of the River Nile. It reviews the history of transboundary politics and treaties along with Uganda’s development projects in the region. The paper then discusses modern relations and agreements, with a focus on the most recent agreement between the Riparian States, the Cooperative Framework Agreement, and how Uganda fits into them with regards to their interest in hydropower development within their borders on the Nile. It then explores possible future developments on the river and the potential for future conflict in the region, and finishes by making recommendations for the Nile Basin and Uganda. The whole project is looked at using the sustainable development paradigm.

This study was conducted over six weeks through primarily document review and eight expert interviews. All documents reviewed were from peer edited sources, such as books, scholarly journals, and accredited news sources. The documents provided historical information and facts and statistics on the modern development and geopolitical relations of the Nile Basin. Interviews served to enhance and further the information gathered in document review. All the interviewees were experts in their fields and most worked within the Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment and their directorates. The study was conducted in accordance to ethical considerations and all wishes of interviewees were upheld throughout the paper.

The researcher found that modern geopolitics of the region have been greatly influenced by the 1929 and 1959 colonial agreements that gave Egypt power of the Nile, and that today negotiations focus on changing this status quo, despite protests from Egypt. Uganda must balance its position as both an upstream and downstream Riparian state, and could be a key middle ground country for maintaining peace in the region by appealing to both sides of the water sharing debate. Uganda’s primary investment in the river is hydropower, and so they must balance the want to release enough water to generate electricity, and preserving the catchments of Lake Victoria and the Nile to protect the resource for long term use. Other than hydropower, which is a hotspot for international criticism due to environmental and cultural impacts, Uganda has a large potential for developing irrigation from the Nile and Lake Victoria that could increase agricultural yields which could improve the country’s food security. Uganda’s position in the Nile Basin makes it unique both in its ability to use and regulate the White Nile, and in the political framework of the region.


African Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Civil Engineering | Environmental Policy | Environmental Studies | Human Ecology | Human Geography | Place and Environment | Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Regional Sociology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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