With Egypt’s population having more than doubled in the past 25 years, its water supply is increasingly scarce. The country is allowed to draw 55 billion cubic metres a year from the Nile, which is pretty well tapped out by the time it reaches the Mediterranean. It gets another 5 billion cubic metres from aquifers and rainwater.

Ethiopia is about to begin filling the reservoir of its Grand Renaissance Dam, which, depending on how quickly it is done, could reduce the flow of the Nile by as much as 20 per cent over the next few years.

New industries and other facilities setting up in the Suez Canal Economic Zone are now expected to get the bulk of their water from desalination.

Last year, the army commissioned construction of three 140,000 cubic metre per day plants. One will be at the southern entrance of the Suez Canal at the new city of Al Galala being built on a mountain overlooking the Gulf of Suez. A second will be at the canal’s northern entrance near the industrial zone of East Port Said and the third near El Alamein on Egypt’s north coast.