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Questions arise over Egypt's proposed Nile shipping lane

Egypt’s serious efforts to implement a project to convert the Nile River into a shipping lane has run into several hurdles.
09.10.14 | Source: AlMonitor

The project was agreed to by the heads of state at the January 2013 African Summit and would see the Nile River converted into a navigation lane linking the Mediterranean Sea with Lake Victoria, where the river originates. Egypt is considered to be the primary party responsible for the implementation of the project, which was endorsed by the African Development Bank and six countries of the Nile Basin in addition to Egypt. However, the project has become the source of widespread debate among experts in Cairo due to obstacles relating to the nature of the river, which would stand in the way of implementing the project.

According to an academic study conducted by Haytham Awad, the head of the department of irrigation and hydraulics at Alexandria University, the project is not only difficult but could even be impossible. Awad told Al-Monitor that the project borders on being a pipe dream similar to the one that would see the Nile River linked to the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Awad said, “The navigation lane between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea involves overcoming great engineering difficulties. The Nile is dotted with gigantic installations such as dams and bridges in addition to massive waterfalls.”

Awad went on to detail the results of his study. First, there exists a waterway from Aswan to the Mediterranean Sea through the Damietta branch only, while the Rashid branch of the Nile is too shallow.