Egypt positioned to turn into desalination pioneer

CAIRO — Egypt is exploring methods to extend its water assets and offset any damaging results of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in mild of the stalled tripartite negotiations between it, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have been in a impasse over the GERD since April. The disaster was raised greater than as soon as earlier than the UN Security Council — most lately in July — which referred it again to the African Union, however to no avail. Ethiopia continues to fill the GERD reservoir, disregarding objections raised by Egypt and Sudan.

On Aug. 9, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune referred to as for a direct assembly between the three disputing events. Algeria, together with the UN, US and EU, would mediate the assembly below the AU sponsorship. He famous that the initiative was welcomed by the disputing events, however no date has been set for resuming negotiations.

During a gathering on Aug. 9 with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Egyptian Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities Assem al-Jazzar revealed that Cairo has acquired bids from 60 main worldwide firms to implement seawater desalination tasks.

In a cupboard assembly a day earlier, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi referred to as for conducting research on implementing superior water desalination expertise within the nation.

Experts and observers contacted by Al-Monitor pressured the crucial significance of seawater desalination tasks to maintain tempo with inhabitants development and concrete enlargement in Egypt. They defined that these options are supposed to extend water assets hit by acute shortages, particularly amid the disaster ensuing from the GERD and its potential harm to Egypt.

Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, the top of the Arab Water Council and Egypt’s former water minister, attributed the extreme water shortage to an enormous inhabitants enhance. Speaking to Al-Monitor over the cellphone, Abu Zeid defined that desalination is used to supply water for consuming however the course of can not meet the wants of irrigation and agriculture attributable to its very excessive value. “The state resorted to lining canals and modern irrigation techniques to reduce water losses,” he stated. “It focused on raising citizens’ awareness about the need to rationalize their water consumption. The state is also searching for more nontraditional sources such as storing rain and flooding, benefiting from groundwater and treating agricultural wastewater.” 

He added that Egypt and Sudan have been pressured to guard their historic rights within the Nile waters, saying, “Both Egypt and Sudan are determined to reach a binding legal agreement with Ethiopia through international mediation that would preserve the rights of the three disputing countries.”

Abu Zeid expects a promising future for the seawater desalination business in Egypt, citing a political will to localize the fashionable expertise.

Abbas Sharaki, head of the division of water assets and geology on the Faculty of African Studies at Cairo University, believes Egypt wants desalination tasks in coastal cities removed from the Nile River. He additionally defined this technique is simply too costly be utilized in agriculture.

Sharaki instructed Al-Monitor, “The continued urban sprawl and creation of new cities made it urgent for the state to implement seawater desalination projects. Around 16 new cities have been constructed at a great distance from the Nile and close to the coasts such as El Galala, Ain Sokhna, the New Administrative Capital, Hurghada, North and South Sinai, Marsa Alam and others.”

Sharaki stated that these tasks are crucial even with out the problems launched by the GERD. He argued that seawater desalination tasks can not compensate for shortages from the Nile. “The Nile water is the cheapest in cost and used in irrigation, agriculture and for drinking, unlike water generated by seawater desalination projects.”

Sharaki, nonetheless, warned that feasibility research are wanted to guage seawater desalination tasks, explaining, “The global average cost of water production from similar projects is $1 per cubic meter.” 

Hossam Moghazy, the top of irrigation and hydraulics division on the Faculty of Engineering at Alexandria University, stated that there’s a water deficit in Egypt of 25 billion cubic meters. He instructed Al-Monitor it’s as a result of inhabitants enhance of two.5 million folks yearly whereas the water accessible from the Nile has remained the identical. “Consequently, wastewater treatment projects are necessary to allow the reuse of this water, along with rainwater, flooding and groundwater to compensate for the deficit,” he added. 

He famous that Egypt is determined by the Nile River to satisfy 95% of its water wants, including, “The urban expansion triggered by the population increase made it necessary to establish seawater desalination projects to generate drinking water for coastal cities.”

Moghazy, who can be a former water minister, believes Egypt will probably be a promising market sooner or later for seawater tasks. “There are efforts by the state to localize this industry in order to reduce its cost while tapping the latest technological means to achieve the highest quality and lowest cost,” he concluded.


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