CAIRO: Linking the Nile River to the Congo River is a fanciful idea that cannot be achieved, Alaa El-Din Yassin, professor of hydraulics in the Faculty of Engineering at Alexandria University, said Tuesday at the Faculty of Engineering at Tanta University’s first international forum on Egyptian water rights.
A 2013 study conducted by Gamal Al-Qalyoubi, professor of petroleum and energy at the American University in Cairo, examined how to link the Nile and Congo water systems for water security and water allocations. Around 1,000 billion cubic meters of Congo River water is washed into the Atlantic annually. Qalyoubi said in his study that water could be diverted by digging a 600 kilometer canal from the Nile in southern Sudan to northern Sudan and then to Lake Nasser.
Yassin said three former irrigation ministers, Mahmoud Abu Zeid, Hussein Atfy and Mohamed Nasr Allam, said the project could not be achieved because it would cost more than 2.2 billion EGP and require the extension of pipes, the building of stations and the raising of sea levels more than 200 meters, which makes it an unlikely project.
A lack of water resources in Egypt does not allow the completion of major agricultural expansion projects in Toshka and the Al-Salam Canal, Yassin said, adding that Egypt’s water resources face internal and external challenges.
Strained relations between Egypt and Nile basin countries, ongoing Sudanese violations and the secession of South Sudan are the largest external challenges facing Egypt, Yassin said. He said the dam construction project in Uganda and other countries would only affect 10 percent of Egypt’s share of the Nile waters.
Internal challenges include limited water resources, the degradation of water networks with losses reaching 30 percent, the non-payment of bills, deteriorating irrigation facilities, pollution of irrigation water, an increasing population at an annual rate of two percent, increased demand for water, a lack of public awareness about water issues, and political instability, Yassin said.
In addition to that, he added that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would have a negative impact on Egypt’s share of the Nile waters.
The National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS) has warned of risks regarding a potential Congo River project to help Egypt achieve its water security after the building of the Renaissance Dam.
An assistant professor at NARSS, Mohammed Bastawisi, told MENA on March 31 that there are 600 kilometer-long and a 500 kilometer-wide mountains separating the two rivers, which have different water levels. He warned that the low-level water flow of the Congo River would drag the high-level water of the Nile once they meet in the Atlantic Ocean.
There remains controversy over the potential impact of linking the Congo and Nile rivers to provide Egypt with water, which raises many questions about the future of Egypt’s share of Nile waters, in light of the negative impacts expected once the Renaissance Dam is built.