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EGYPT: Government wants to build small power plants in the Nile Delta

The Egyptian authorities are considering the construction of small hydropower plants at several sites in the Nile Delta. This idea is not unanimously supported by the government of this North African country.

Implementing small hydroelectric power plants in the Nile Delta in northern Egypt is an idea that the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity intends to implement. Coordinated by the Hydroelectric Power Plants Executive Authority (HPPEA), studies have been carried out in this region of Egypt where the Nile divides into several branches before flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

Conducted by a German company, these investigations identified at least seven sites. The Egyptian Ministry of Electricity plans to establish hydroelectric power plants with capacities between 2 and 5 MW. This is a good initiative to reduce dependence on fossil fuels for electricity production, but it could also have a disruptive effect on the environment of this swampy region. This partly explains the opposition of the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation.

Ongoing negotiations

The construction of small dams in the Upper Nile region is supported by the German development agency Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). The financial institution has allocated €30 million to the project. The Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation is reluctant to validate the project. A request to this effect has been submitted by the Ministry of Electricity. The Ministry of Electricity indicates that negotiations are ongoing.

It must be said that the Nile delta is in a way the green lung of Egypt, with a biodiversity specific to swampy areas. Intensive agriculture is practised there on a large scale. The crops are used to supply Upper Egypt.

The Nile delta is also a densely populated area with 55 million inhabitants. The Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation fears for the disruption of this fragile balance, between different uses and of the ecosystem itself, with the installation of hydroelectric power stations which will necessarily operate with dams.

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