Water-scarce Egypt will more than quadruple its desalination capacity by granting concessions to private companies from the state budget to build 17 facilities in the next five years with sustainable solar energy.
The plan fits with Egypt’s efforts to diversify freshwater sources for its fast-growing population as the country faces competition for Nile water from the giant hydroelectric dam Ethiopia is building upstream.
The new concessions are designed to encourage private investment and technology development, two difficult areas for the Arab world’s most populous country.
Investments in the new desalination facilities will start with government guarantees to buy water and resell it to domestic and industrial consumers at huge discounts which will require heavy subsidies, according to the fund’s chief executive Ayman Soliman. He declined to estimate the size of the subsidy.
The new facilities will generate a total of 2.8 million cubic meters per day, a number that will double in the long term. Egypt has now installed a desalination capacity of about 800,000 cubic meters per day and the government is targeting 6.4 million cubic meters by 2050, according to figures from the fund.
The military, which under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government was used to spearhead infrastructure development, has built 27 desalination facilities. Private companies have installed some in resorts on Egypt’s dry coast. [ka/ab]