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Can Egypt consider diverting water from the Congo to the Nile?

By : Mahmoud Sakr

Many Egyptian people see that connecting the River Nile with the Congo River could save them from the shortage of water in the future. Others suggest that there should be another River parallel to the Nile.

The Congo River, formerly known as the Zaire River is the second longest river in Africa, shorter only than the Nile, as well as the second largest river in the world by discharge volume, following only the Amazon. It is also the world’s deepest recorded river, with measured depths in excess of 220 m (720 ft).

 The Congo-Lualaba-Chambeshi River system has an overall length of 4,700 km (2,920 mi), which makes it the world’s ninth-longest river.

The Congo’s drainage basin covers 4,014,500 square kilometres (1,550,000 sq mi. The Congo’s discharge at its mouth ranges from 23,000 to 75,000 cubic metres per second (810,000 to 2,650,000 cu ft/s), with an average of 41,000 cubic metres per second (1,400,000 cu ft/s).

The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has officially turned down a project to connect the Nile and the Congo rivers.

The ministry sent a technical report to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stating reasons for refusing the project as follows:

The proposed project did not pass through the globally known cycle of projects from the feasibility study stage to the final report.

 It did not specify how the water would be directed from the Congo River to the stream that will be created.

It did not specify the number the pipelines, the pumping stations and their locations, the source and amount of electrical power needed for the stations, the annual cost of the energy needed to run the stations, the locations of the 18 proposed dams that would generate the hydroelectric power.

It did not specify the path of the waterway and its dimensions within the Egyptian border. And as the Nile River cannot absorb any additional quantities of water at the moment, a new river would be created in the Egyptian desert at a huge cost, in addition to pumping stations and many other water facilities.

It did not specify the risk for such a long waterway passing through geographically disparate regions and security unstable tribal areas, which was the case during the implementation of the Jonglei Canal in southern Sudan.

We should remember that Egypt and Sudan have for 40 years failed to build the Jonglei Canal over 360 km to pass 4 billion cubic meters of water before we start thinking about transferring 110 billion cubic meters for a distance of more than 3,000 km.

There were proposals to transfer the Congo River water to Lake Chad and to Libya that the Congo had rejected because its Constitution prohibits the transfer of water out of the country without the consent of the people through a referendum. These are the rejection items.

However, our answer to such rejection is that time is changing. Forty years ago is not like nowadays. Egypt should seize the opportunity. The civil war in the south of Sudan has come to an end.

So we should start immediately to complete the establishment of the Jonglei Canal as a first step. Then we can revise all the aspects of connecting the Congo River with the River Nile i.e. it can be connected through other countries like CAR Central Africa Republic then through Chad rather than connecting it through the Sudan.

This will necessitate that we dig and create a stream or rather another canal in the western side of Egypt side by side with the Libyan border until it goes to the Mediterranean Sea. We see that such ideas will keep the High Dam and the River Nile safe. Some compensation can be provided to both countries i.e. CAR and Chad as Medical or Educational support.  

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