Rawia M. Tawfik is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University, Egypt. She holds a DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and an MSc in Politics from Cairo University, Egypt. Her research interests include issues surrounding African development and regional integration. She was a visiting research fellow at the South Africa Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Africa Institute of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa; and the German Development Institute in Bonn, Germany. Her post-doctoral research has focused on the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on conflict and cooperation in the Nile Basin. She has published a number of journal articles, book chapters and research papers on Nile hydro-politics, regional integration in Africa, and Egypt’s foreign policy towards Africa.
The signing of the Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan in March 2015 after four years of tensions around the project has revived optimism in academic and policy circles about regional cooperation in the Eastern Nile. Followed by other steps to foster collaboration beyond water resources, the declaration promised to encourage the three riparian states to cooperate on a more balanced basis and invited donor countries and institutions to support the integration agenda in the region. The proposed research questions the extent to which ongoing attempts at fostering cooperation are sustainable by examining the domestic factors affecting this cooperation in the three Eastern Nile countries, a factor that is missing in academic and policy debates. It focuses on two related questions: to what extent are the domestic political and economic factors in the three Eastern Nile countries conducive to regional cooperation? And how can a better environment for cooperation be created? It looks at the perceptions of the current political regimes of Eastern Nile cooperation, and the extent to which these perceptions are compatible. It identifies the interest groups that can carry out the integration agenda and their level of influence on the decision-making process, and the ways in which donor countries and institutions could sustain the ongoing cooperation efforts. The project integrates literature of regional integration into the analysis of conflict and cooperation over transboundary water resources. It reviews the past cooperation agreements between the three countries to identify the challenges that affected the implementation of these agreements, the extent to which these challenges persist, and the means to tackle them. In addition to other primary and secondary sources, interviews with policymakers, researchers and businessmen would help uncover these challenges and the means to address them.