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EBRD and IFC support seawater desalination and renewables in Egypt

By Nibal Zgheib

  • EBRD and IFC assist Egypt with preparation and procurement of PPPs for first seawater desalination plants
  • Project to boost Egypt’s water security and resilience to climate change-induced water scarcity
  • Plants aim to use electricity from renewable energy sources

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) are working with The Sovereign Fund of Egypt for Investment and Development (TSFE) and the Egyptian Government to support the preparation and procurement of four seawater desalination plants.

The EBRD and IFC signed an advisory agreement to support Egypt in structuring and implementing public-private partnership (PPP) desalination projects that will increase the supply of water in the country, particularly from sustainable, unconventional sources.

The desalination project will help to ensure Egypt’s water security, improve its resilience, mitigate the impact of climate change-induced freshwater scarcity and boost sustainable economic growth. Moreover, the electricity used to power the desalination plants will be procured from renewable energy sources.

Egypt is among the world’s most water-stressed countries and is susceptible to climate change-induced freshwater scarcity. Ensuring water security and introducing resilience and sustainability to the water supply system are a top national priority. The country aims to transition coastal areas to desalinated water as their primary water source and plans to implement total desalination capacity of 8.8 million m3/day by 2050. It intends to install this capacity with the help of private-sector expertise and capital.

The Minister of International Cooperation, Rania A. Al-Mashat: “Fostering private sector engagement to unleash economic opportunities in vital sectors is the essence of Egypt’s international cooperation. “The Project Preparedness and Advisory Services” provided jointly by two of our important development partners, the EBRD and IFC, to the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, funded by Germany and the Global Infrastructure Facility establishes a new display of public-private partnerships dedicated to accelerating water security in the country through ambitious strategic desalination projects,” 

Karim Badr, CEO of the TSFE Infrastructure and Utilities Subfund, said: “Through this programme, we are delivering on Egypt’s 2030 vision, which aims to diversify the country’s water resources in a sustainable manner to achieve water security. TSFE is committed to supporting the country in achieving its goals by developing such key strategic sectors and attracting the right investment and development partners. We are glad to be working with the EBRD on this programme, which has vast experience in structuring and implementing desalination PPP projects on a similar scale.”

Heike Harmgart, EBRD Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, said:  “We are delighted to be a part of this landmark project, which will help to provide water security for the country through unconventional sources of water in a sustainable manner. Implementing such undertakings through a PPP can help to ensure faster and more efficient project completion and the EBRD has expertise to offer in this field.”

Cheick-Oumar Sylla, the IFC’s Regional Director for North Africa and Horn of Africa, said: “Water scarcity is a critical challenge in Egypt, and the country’s ambitious desalination programme is a key initiative for tackling this issue. The IFC is pleased to support the government in preparing the first projects, which will help establish the foundations for the larger programme.”

Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD. Since the start of the Bank’s operations there in 2012, it has invested more than €10.2 billion in 162 projects across the country. 

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