Egypt plans to expand establishment of seawater desalination projects

Egypt plans to expand establishment of seawater desalination projects Fri, May. 27, 2022
CAIRO - 26 May 2022: Egypt’s Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouli, followed up the plans to expand the establishment of seawater desalination projects, in the presence of Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Hala El-Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, and Assem El-Gazzar, Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities.

The Prime Minister affirmed the state's interest in expanding seawater desalination projects during the next stage, especially in coastal and border cities, given the importance of these projects in providing part of the local water needs to support various development purposes.

He pointed out that the government is seriously keen to achieve an effective participation of the private sector in implementing these important projects for the state, as part of efforts to expand the base of this sector's participation in the Egyptian economy, as it is a true partner in development work.

The Prime Minister directed the formation of a technical committee to receive offers from companies applying to implement seawater desalination projects, negotiate in order to reach the best offered prices, and instruct state agencies to provide the necessary land for the implementation of desalination projects, as well as the lands of industrial projects that will be established to provide the necessary inputs for desalination plants, such as manufacturing equipment and membranes used in desalination.

The meeting dealt with a review of the current situation of the existing desalination plants, which are being implemented, as it was noted that there are currently 82 existing desalination plants, with a total capacity of 917,000 m3/day, and 14 new plants are being implemented, which will raise the total capacity of desalination plants in Egypt to about 1.4 million m3/day.

The meeting also dealt with the details of the five-year plan to expand the establishment of seawater desalination projects for the years from 2020 to 2050, which aims to provide water needs for urban development goals, and to meet the requirements of the future natural population increase for the existing population, where the locations of the proposed stations were reviewed within this plan, and energy to be achieved.

Previously, Water sector expert at the European Investment Bank (EIB), Walid Salem, said that his bank is currently studying participation in Egypt’s plan to desalinate sea water within the framework of projects that the bank contributes to financing.

This statement came in conjunction with the state’s Minister of Local Development, Mahmoud Shaarawy, announcing that Egypt has entered the water poverty stage.

According to Salem, the EIB gives great priority to water and sanitation projects as one of Egypt's priorities, pointing out that this is done in keeping with the large national programs implemented by Egypt, including a decent life initiative.

“The bank contributes to several projects in Egypt with joint funding with the European Union (EU),” Salem stated.

He pointed out that among these projects is a sewage station in West Alexandria, unlike other projects such as the water quality improvement project at Kitchener Drain in the Delta, with a financing value of €406 million, with development financing of €213.9 million from the EIB and a grant of €25 million from the EU, in addition to sewage projects in Kafr El-Sheikh and many projects at the level of the Republic.

On the bank's future projects in Egypt, the investment bank official explained that the bank always seeks to respond to the national plan of the Egyptian state and its priorities.

Regarding the value of project financing in Egypt, he stated that the EIB has provided financing to Egypt worth €1 billion so far to support 23 projects, including: integrated development projects for sewage treatment in Alexandria and Kafr El-Sheikh, in addition to projects aimed at reducing pollution in Egypt’s lakes and the Mediterranean and the Fayoum sewage plant.

Answering whether the European Investment Bank contributes to projects other than water, especially within the initiative of a decent life, he said that a study is currently underway with the Ministry of Housing in this regard, adding that until now no cooperation has taken place because a decent life is a large national project that is being implemented at a rapid pace and the bank is studying participation in its second and third phases if the government requests.

Egypt entered the water poverty stage

Earlier on May 19, Major General Mahmoud Shaarawy, Minister of Local Development, said that Egypt has entered the stage of water poverty in accordance with international rates and standards and according to the United Nations.

The definition of water poverty sets the per capita share at 1,000 cubic meters per year, and thus today the per capita share of water in Egypt has fallen to the equivalent of 550 or 580 cubic meters of water, which is about half of the water poverty rate.

Egypt currently uses more water than its internal renewable resources, which depend mainly on the flows of the Nile's fresh water, as the Nile River is the backbone of the industrial and agricultural sector in Egypt and is the main source of drinking water for the population, providing nearly 97% of Egypt's water.

Egypt's annual share of the Nile is 55.5 billion cubic meters, without the expected effects of the Renaissance Dam, and the total water resources used by Egypt are about 76 billion cubic meters of water, meaning that Egypt suffers from a water deficit of 20 billion cubic meters annually.

6 billion cubic meters of rain and groundwater are drawn on, and 12 billion cubic meters of water is reused.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is the latest issue Egypt’s face related to the water file.

However, a report by the Atlantic Council stated that Egypt's water crisis has been building for a long time, even before the dam crisis emerged, noting that the Nile has been drained, not by the Renaissance Dam, which began filling only last July, but primarily by the massive increase in the population whose needs have swelled beyond the capacity of the Nile, and who are now at risk of not drinking enough.

According to the Egypt human development Report (EHDR 2021) the per capita share of water in 2018 amounted to about 585 cubic meters annually, and by 2025 this figure is expected to decrease to 496 cubic meters annually.

It is also expected that by 2030 the figure will also decrease to 444 cubic meters per year per person, and in 2037 the per capita share of fresh water is expected to be 387 cubic meters per year.

Estimates also predicted that by 2050 the annual per capita share of fresh water in Egypt is expected to decrease to 303 cubic meters.

If this is achieved, the per capita share of water in Egypt will be estimated to be equivalent to one third of the global water poverty line.

Water stress in Egypt is expected to increase in the future as a result of rapid population growth, rising temperatures, and increased water consumption in Egypt and other Nile Basin countries. If water scarcity is not dealt with properly, the worsening water crisis will put severe pressures on the Egyptian economy and make the country more vulnerable to internal conflict, according to a report by Climate Diplomacy.

Water Desalination Projects

Meanwhile, Egypt has achieved a great leap in the field of water desalination, as it was able to double production within a few years to about one million cubic meters per day, instead of 80,000 cubic meters per day, according to previous statement made by Former head of the National Authority for Drinking Water and Sanitation, and head of the Housing and Development Company for Utilities, one of the Ministry of Housing companies Sayed El-Ashry.

El-Ashry explained that this is due to the new plants that have been implemented during the past 7 years, where 82 desalination plants have been implemented, and 14 new desalination plants are currently being implemented with a capacity of 518,000 m3/day.