The UAE’s Metito Holdings Ltd., Scatec and Orascom Construction are in talks with Egypt on a $1.5bn renewables-powered desalination plant, as the most populous Arab nation moves to address looming water shortages.

The three-company consortium is in discussions with Egypt’s sovereign wealth fund to partner on the project that would follow a build, own, operate and transfer system, according to Metito’s managing director for Africa, Karim Madwar.

Reliant on the Nile River for much of its fresh water, Egypt has announced plans for a swathe of new desalination plants, including a $2.5bn initiative involving the sovereign fund and private investors to build more than a dozen renewables-powered facilities by 2025.