Thursday in the Middle East

Its Thursday in Cairo, so the end of the week.

– CSM has a blog post on land scarcity causing violence in Ethiopia/Kenya border region. The details are scanty, I’d be curious to know more about the relationships between the groups and people involved and why the violence seemed to get so out of control so quickly.

Another CSM blog post (two really interesting ones in a row) chronicles the opening of a new factory for mango juice concentrate in Sierra Leone. They set up a special economic zone (SEZ) where the factory can operate tax free. I wonder about the size of the benefit from operating out of the SEZ. In Egypt, one of the reasons they have stayed competitive with certain exports, especially textiles, is the proliferation of these zones, the “Free Zones” as the are known. Given the mess that Egyptian industry is in right now, there may be some negative externalities… Also, the article notes that the company buys mangos at 8 times the local price during the high (dry) season. What happens during wet season when the plums aren’t ripe? Does all that buying support local prices?

Here is fun little experiment on using the internet and demography. Internet users in Tanzania were more likely to be aware and critical of political developments before the election if they received a 75 hour free internet voucher. However, they were less likely to vote. I wonder how many of them were online on election day…

-A pet preoccupation of mine is the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (NBCFA) which aims to reaportion the waters of the river Nile. Prior to the drafting of this agreement, Egypt, and to a lesser extent, Sudan, legitimized their almost exclusive use of the Nile’s water from agreements entered into on their behalf by the British, in 1929, and again when Sudan became independent in 1956. Needless to say, the upstream countries, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Brundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and the new South Sudan didn’t get much out of these agreements. This new post on Jadaliyya (one of my favorite sources!) details prospects for a deal on the use of the Nile’s waters. Water resource management and the use of the Nile are going to be huge issues for Egypt in the near future and will force the country to deal with its economic co-dependence and its shared history with its Southern African neighbors. Its not coincidence that a large government delegation went to Ethiopia earlier this month. In my next lifetime, I would write my dissertation about this…

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