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Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Is ACWA Power planning to bid for desalination plants in Egypt?

ACWA Power is eyeing desalination plants in Egypt, with the Saudi renewables company looking to partner with Egyptian outfits to bid for desalination projects being offered to investors by the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE), Al Mal reported yesterday, citing unnamed sources. ACWA Power denied the report when contacted by Enterprise yesterday, but the report is a reminder of the massive investment Egypt plans to make in desalination going forward.

A multi-bn USD plan: The SFE announced a USD 2.5 bn plan to develop 17 new desalination plants capable of producing a combined 2.8 mn cubic meters of desalinated water daily. The fund will hold a minority stake in the plants, which will be built, owned and operated by it alongside local and foreign investors.The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and International Finance Corporation will give technical support and advise on the bidding, which is slated to begin in Q1 2022.

Orascom Construction and Hassan Allam Holding have been reported to be in talks with the SFE to build several of the plants.

The initiative aims to improve the country’s water security as climate change, a rising population and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam threaten its water resources. Egypt receives only half of its required 114 bn cubic meters of water each year from natural sources. Some EGP 134 bn will be spent through 2050 to build desalination plants to provide 6.4 mn cubic meters of potable water.

Don’t count ACWA Power out of the running. The company has a significant presence in Egypt and has previously expressed interest in Egypt’s investment in desalination infrastructure. In April, ACWA was awarded a USD 114 mn financing package by the EBRD for its 200 MW Kom Ombo solar power plant. The company has minority stakes in three plants in Benban and an upcoming project with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company to convert an electricity plant in Luxor to renewable energy.

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