Historically, the Nile River has been a source of great wealth to the communities that settle on its coast lines. It is the critical means of water transportation through East Africa and an important source of drinking water, fish, plants, salt and other minerals.
The question of who controls the Nile River has been a central question in East African politics since the early 1960's. Many international conflicts have centered around exploitation of Nile resources. For example, during the early 80's and '90's, Kenya and Uganda complained to international bodies including the United Nations about Egyptian officials restricting their access to the Nile Waterways. In recent years, a coalition of East African countries joined together in the Nile Basin Initiative in attempt to resolve issues of control over the Nile through nonviolent and diplomatic means.