Egypt and UK sign MoU on water partnership

New Alamein, one of the most ambitious of Egypt’s new smart cities, will cover 50,000 acres and have a proposed population of three million.

New agreement will enable UK water companies to tap into opportunities in Egypt and Egyptian companies to access UK knowledge and experience.

Egypt and the UK’s leading water sector trade association have agreed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a framework for bilateral cooperation on water projects for 27 governorates and new cities across Egypt.

The collaborative agreement was signed by British Water chair Dr Mark Fletcher and Dr Sayed Ismail, deputy minister for infrastructure at the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities at an international reception in London. The MoU will make it easier for the UK water industry to participate in the opportunities in Egypt and for Egyptian companies to access UK knowledge and experience.

“Egypt’s water and sanitation sector is undergoing a huge transformation and we need the expertise of British companies,” said Dr Sayed Ismail. “We have 40 new cities under development including a new capital city. This is a huge area of development, requiring extensive water and sanitation infrastructure, technologies and services.”

Ismail said expertise from the UK water sector and supply chain was urgently needed to help Egypt’s ambitious modernisation plans on desalination, water reuse, sludge-to-energy retrieval and investment in human capital.

Among the 40 new cities is the new administrative capital of Egypt, which has a planned population of ten million inhabitants and will feature green spaces and separate residential and industrial sectors. Another new city, New Alamein, is one of the most ambitious of Egypt’s smart cities, covering 50,000 acres and with a proposed population of three million. Styled as Egypt’s ‘Gate to Africa’, it will be made up of separate tourist, residential, industrial and historic sectors.

“We are particularly interested in working with British companies on two key technologies – desalination and sludge-to-energy. We want to close the loop by generating energy and increasing water reuse while minimising costs,” he said.

Investment in desalination is critical to Egypt’s plans for a more sustainable water future and there are plans for around 20 new desalination plants across the country, which the Egyptian government plans to build in collaboration with the private sector.

“The River Nile is the main source of water – and the main source of life – for all Egyptians. At the moment 90% of our water is taken from there, but we need to diversify our other resources, especially in coastal areas, the north of Egypt and the eastern borders near the Red Sea. This is where we see desalination playing a significant role,” Ismail explained.

While undertaking such rapid expansion, the Egyptian government wants to build the capacity of the employees in the water and sanitation sector, specifically in areas like facility management and service delivery. “There will be a lot of opportunities for the Egyptian people working in sanitation and water, and also for the UK companies who can support this,” added Ismail.

British Water’s chair Mark Fletcher said, “After many months of planning and collaboration, I am thrilled this important MoU has been signed. This partnership will open many more doors for our members, who have a depth of experience and expertise. British Water looks forward to working closely together to help deliver critical transformation of water and wastewater services in Egypt.”