Egypt – Water & Waste

Egypt Invests in Water Desalination and Sewage Treatment Plants

Published: 27 January 2019

International partners facilitate financing

The Egyptian water and wastewater sector is a field of steady investment. Expansion and renewal often go along with opportunities for international companies. They are involved in the design & construction of plants or supply pumps, filters, turbines, valves, controls and other equipment. Especially the ongoing expansion of seawater desalination is attracting the interest of foreign suppliers.

The fact that water consumption is increasingly being controlled and that new settlements are being built constantly, also points to a need for water meters. In the existing pipeline system, between 18% and 58% of the scarce water is lost. In order to improve this situation and secure supply in the longer term, technology could make a decisive contribution to the search for leaks and their repair.

In June 2017, the U.S. Commercial Service estimated the market volume for the water and wastewater sector in Egypt at US$ 6.4 billion. Due to the need for expansion and renewal as well as water scarcity and the steady population growth, further expansion of the sector can be expected. In October 2018, the water supply per capita was only 570 cubic meters per year.


Egypt: Selected water management projects (early stage)

Project Investment (in US$ million) Status Project Sponsor
Construction of four desalination plants on South Sinai 1,062 Study phase; tender expected at the end of 2019 Kuwait Ministry of Electricity and Water
Construction of a sewage treatment plant in Bahr El Bakr 1,000 Evaluation of offers; capacity 5 million cubic meters per day Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities (MHUUC)
Construction of a sewage treatment plant in Helwan 100 Studies MHUUC
Construction of a sewage treatment plant for the new capital city 60 Project design Construction Authority for Potable Water and Wastewater
Modernisation of the El Tanqia El Gharbeya wastewater treatment plant 56 Studies HCWW; financing via KfW and EIB planned
Construction of sewerage networks and lifting equipment in Markaz Farous 50 Bidding procedure for the main contract NAPWS
Renewal of the Dairut dam 50 Preliminary planning Ministry of Water Resources & Irrigation (MWRI)
Construction of a dam in Shalateen/Assuan 45 Preliminary design; capacity 7 million cubic meters of flood water MWRI
Construction of a desalination plant as PPP in Sharm El Sheikh 30 Studies HCWW; financed by KFAED
Expansion of the Jirzah/Gizeh sewage treatment plant 14 Preliminary planning MHUUC

Source: MEED Projects (January 2019)


The Egyptian government and international partners continuously invest in new projects

The Egyptian government is trying to encounter the foreseeable water shortage with numerous investment projects. In the development plan for the fiscal year 2018/19, 270 projects to improve water supply and wastewater treatment are planned for the structurally weak region of Upper Egypt. By 2021, the National Authority for Potable Water and Sewage (NAPWS) will have implemented projects worth EUR 117 million. Further activities are being prepared.

International donors make the financing of projects much easier. The European Union is supporting a water safety program to the tune of hundreds of millions of euros and projects in twelve governorates. The World Bank has approved a loan of US$ 300 million for the Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) is investing some EUR 107 million in five projects. Due to many credit-financed infrastructure projects, Egypt’s rising foreign debt is increasingly being criticized and has to be restricted. However, existentially important fields such as water supply are likely to continue having priority in the future.

Tension between Egypt and Ethiopia on Nile water

The ongoing construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is causing concern about the future volume of water in the Nile. In December 2018, it was announced that completion would be delayed until 2022. Negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan have not yet resulted in a firm commitment for a fixed share of Nile water for Egypt. The speed at which Ethiopia will fill the dam is going to be decisive.

In anticipation of lower supply and rising demand, the Egyptian government is counting on more reuse of water and seawater desalination in coastal areas. The Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW) aims to increase desalination to 2.6 million cubic meters by 2037. Regional priorities are the Red Sea and Sinai areas.


Egypt: Water resources and their use (in billion cubic meters)

2015/16 2014/15
Water resources 76.25 76.40
. Nile water 55.50 55.50
. Reuse of agricultural water 11.90 11.70
. Groundwater in the Nile valley and delta 6.90 6.90
. Reuse of waste water 1.20 1.30
. Rain and floods 0.65 0.90
. Desalination of sea water 0.10 0.10
Water use 76.25 76.40
. Agriculture 62.15 62.35
. Potable water 10.40 10.35
. Evaporation 2.50 2.50
. Industry 1.20 1.20

Note: Fiscal years: 1 July to 30 June

Source: MWRI


Better wastewater treatment should help to conserve scarce resources

At the beginning of 2019, the “Kitchener Drain” project became more concrete. This canal flows through the governorates of Dakahlia, Gharbiya and Kafr El Sheikh. The project includes sewer cleaning and rehabilitation, wastewater treatment and waste management. The renewal of 24 wastewater treatment plants, the expansion of six more and one new wastewater treatment plant are being discussed. The EUR 400 million project will be financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENI). In January 2019, HCWW prepared a tender for the selection of a consultancy firm.

Two subsidiaries of state-owned Holding Company for Chemical Industries are improving their environmental performance with support of European donors. El-Nasr Company for Fertilizers and Chemical Industries wants to build a drainage station by 2021. At El-Delta Company for Fertilizers and Chemical Industries, a plant for the treatment of industrial waste water will be built.

The water supply in Egypt had a coverage of 96 percent in 2017. By contrast, 83 percent of urban areas, but only 15 percent of rural regions were connected to sewage networks. In 2015, the fresh water sector comprised 2,845 plants and 167,000 kilometers of distribution networks. This was complemented by 395 sewage treatment plants and 48,000 kilometers of sewerage networks.



Name Website Comment
Holding Company for Water and Wastewater


Bundles local state utilities
Ministry of Housing, Utilities & Urban Communities


Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation


New Urban Communities Authority


Plays an essential role in the construction of urban infrastructure