New Cairo wastewater treatment plant is operating at about 70,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d), out of its full 250,000 cm/d capacity, or 28 per cent.

This is due to delays by the Egyptian authorities in completing network connections, delegates at the PPP in Emerging Markets event in Dubai on 22 February were told.

The lack of network connections also delayed the commissioning of the $500m project. It was completed in 2013 but only commissioned in 2014.

The capacity in use will increase to 150,000 cm/d a day once the government finishes an additional sewage main.

The developers, local Orascom Construction Industries and Spain’s FCC Aqualia, continue to be paid basic fees as the government is responsible for the connections. The client is the New Urban Communities Authority, which reports to the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development.

The project, which was awarded in 2010, was also delayed by the 2011 revolution.

The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development bought a 25 per cent stake in the project after commissioning, from the Housing Ministry.

The Orascom Aqualia joint venture, Orasqualia, operates the plant under a 20-year build operate transfer (BOT) concession.

It was the first wastewater public private partnership in Egypt, and won awards from the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, and others.

Egypt is investing heavily in wastewater reuse to reduce pressure on the Nile, which provides 95 per cent of water. In 2012, out of the 6.5 billion cubic metres of wastewater collected in Egypt, 2.9 billion cubic metres, 44 per cent, was not treated.