AUC joins bid to promote seawater agriculture in Egypt
The American University in Cairo (AUC) along with The Seawater Foundation (TSF) and Energy Allied International (EAI) have executed a long-term cooperation memorandum formalizing their collaboration on Integrated Seawater Agriculture Systems (ISAS). ISAS is a closed-loop agricultural system which combines desert land and untreated seawater to produce biofuels, seafood, salt, protein meal and animal feed. The signing ceremony, held at the AUC New Cairo campus, also included the unveiling of the Red Sea Project, the first ISAS project now under development in Egypt.
The collaboration with AUC primarily focuses on internships, training and R&D associated with the development and operation of New Nile Co, the company being promoted by EAI and TSF to establish the Red Sea Project, Egypt's first commercial ISAS project covering an area of 50,000 hectares. Over time, the project is anticipated to create 6,500 direct jobs and tens of thousands of indirect employment opportunities.
Carl Hodges, founding director of the Environmental Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona and chairman of TSF explained the rationale for establishing a relationship between AUC and New Nile Co."Great synergies exist between the AUC's various schools of study, including its Desert Development Center, and the ISAS technologies we've successfully demonstrated in Eritrea and Mexico over the past thirty years."
As part of its collaboration, the parties are assessing the feasibility of developing an "Initial Discovery Facility" an ISAS demonstration activity at AUC's School of Sciences and Engineering's field station in El Gouna, located along the Red Sea coastline, roughly thirty kilometers from the Red Sea Project site.
Lisa Anderson, provost and president-elect of AUC added, "The formalization of the relationship with TSF and EAI is a continuation of our long-standing tradition of collaborating with the private sector to address local and regional socio-economic issues in a manner that is both socially and environmentally responsible."
Also participating in the Red Sea project announcement and MOU signing ceremony was Nina Fedoroff, president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the world's premier scientific organizations. "ISAS is one of the few emerging technologies that promises to exploit what is most abundant in a world faced with global warming -- sunshine, seawater and desert land," noted Fedoroff, an active advocate of ISAS. Unlike other biofuel projects which have the propensity to displace traditional food crops and compete for arable land and freshwater supplies, ISAS combines abundant desert lands with untreated seawater to facilitate aquaculture and agriculture production in a sustainable manner, addressing critical issues such as food security, water scarcity and unemployment.
Mike Nassar, chairman & CEO of EAI, closed the event by noting that, "Energy Allied subscribes to the Triple Bottom Line business philosophy of People, Planet and Profit. The development of New Nile Co—and the potential to replicate its success throughout Egypt and the world—represents a paradigm shift in the biofuels sector. Our relationship with the AUC affords us the opportunity to impart both our business philosophy and expertise in ISAS technologies to Egypt's future leaders."