Also unclear is the future of negotiations with Egypt's African neighbors over a $4.7-billion Nile River hydroelectric project under construction in Ethopia that has already created regional friction over its management and water allocations.

The dam, 21% complete, is Africa’s largest and will generate an estimated 6,000 MW of electricity when finished in 2017. Much of the electricity will be exported to neighboring countries.

Published reports say Egypt's internal troubles and now the Morsi government's collapse have been further distracting.


But industry participants in Egypt say pent-up needs of a growing population will push construction. "Contrary to expectations, Egypt construction and real estate markets are booming. This is caused by the increase in demand triggered by currency devaluation and shortage of supply," says Mohamed Fahmy, vice president of Cairo-based engineering firm EHAF Consulting.

According to a July 15 report in an online water industry publication, Finance Ministry officials say procurement is proceeding for the $525-million Abu Rawash wastewater treatment plant upgrade near Giza, planned as a public-private partnership. Tender documents now are being completed, although bidding has been delayed several times since the 2011 revolution.

Four consortia are shortlisted for the project, which will expand daily plant capacity to 1.6 million cu m and upgrade treatment.

They are: Germany's Hochtief teamed with UAE and Turkish firms; Orascom teamed with Spanish and French firms; France's Degremont and Kuwait-based Kharafi National.

Sabine Rous, a Degremont spokeswoman declined comment on the procurement.

EHAF's Fahmy is hopeful that Egypt's new government will not repeat the practices of past regimes and focus instead on building the country's professional ranks and meeting public needs. "Unfortunately, the [Muslim] Brotherhood wanted to do changes too quickly and unprofessionally," he says. "What we really miss is business strategy for the coming 30 years. Power needs to be shared, strong results on the ground should be quickly felt and there should be no more political monopoly."

According to an online report by Reuters, Egypt's Sawiris family, which owns Orascom's construction and industrial empire and has been in self-imposed exile in the U.K. in recent years, says it is planning major investments in Egypt now that the Morsi regime is gone and the firm was cleared of income tax evasion.

Says HKS executive DeSantis: "We loved working in Egypt. We hope the country finds a place where it can prosper. Egypt is important for a lot of reasons. It's about an attitude and where people want to invest."

Libya 2.0

Hope also springs eternal for a construction resurgence in neighboring Libya.

Publicly held AECOM, which had to record a charge to earnings in 2011 after termination of its four-year position as program manager for Libya’s estimated $50-billion upgrade of housing and other infrastructure, is reportedly negotiating a return to its lead role.

Says one source, the firm "has been back in Libya since it was possible to be there. It will get a contract soon to oversee all contractors."

AMEC says it has resumed limited oil and gas operations in Libya.

"KBR is active in Libya and we have established an office there. There are many potential opportunities but commercial conditions remain uncertain and the authority to contract is a concern," says Hewitt. "In particular, local currency conversion and repatriation are open issues."

Libya "is taking its own country step by step, getting security and disarming the militants," says Perkins Eastman's Basler. He says the country's interim government now is "going through old contracts from the Gadhafi era to determine if they were fair and could continue." These include infrastructure projects and temporary hospitals.

With Libya's smaller population, Basler is more optimistic of success.

Even so, political turmoil appears to be a growing risk for global business. In its 2013 biennial global risk management survey, insurer Aon noted that political uncertainty joined the list of Top 10 business risks for the first time since the survey began in 2007.

Survey results are based on responses from more than 1,400 organizations in 28 business sectors, including construction. About 57% of the company respondents are privately owned. Construction made up 8% of the respondents, the largest single-industry sector, according to the survey. Aon predicts that political risk will rise to No. 6 on the list by 2016.

"With political risk rising up on the boardroom agenda, companies need to consistently assess their political and security risks in all the countries and regions in which they operate or transact business," says Aon.