President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced Tuesday a new Suez Canal project to dig a 72-kilometre canal alongside the original, to be implemented over a year at a cost of EGP 29bn ($4bn).
The announcement was made during the inauguration ceremony of the Suez Canal Axis Development Project on Tuesday in Ismailia. The Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Memish provided a detailed presentation on the projects that come under the national project.
Al-Sisi called on the army’s engineering corps, who will directly supervise the project, to conclude the project in one year instead of the previously scheduled 3–year timeline. Al-Sisi attributed the shortened time period to the “the deteriorating security” which could threaten the project.
The president called on all Egyptians to participate in funding the project through a stock market IPO (Initial Public Offering), asking Egyptians resident in the country to contribute EGP 100, and those living abroad to donate $100.
The president said the government had refused any foreign participation in the project, stressing that only national banks, companies and investors would be able to finance it.
Memish said that the new canal will be established to increase the absorptive capacity of the Suez Canal to 97 passing ships per day, up from the current rate of 49. The project would involve 35kms of dry digging and 37kms of “expansion and deep” digging.
Upon completion, the project would see canal revenues increase by 259%, Memish added, up from current annual revenues of $5bn.
The new canal, which would ensure that shipping traffic would not stop, will be carried out with the participation of the armed forces along with 17 companies.
The Suez Canal Axis Development Project was adopted by the current government after being proposed during the rule of former president Mohamed Morsi. It had been rejected by the armed forces at that time for “national security” concerns.
The current plan for the project was amended by the armed forces.
The cost of the national project amounts to EGP 50bn, and would generate revenues expected to record $1bn annually, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said on Sunday. Mehleb added that the government will present its plan for the Suez Canal Axis Development Project to consultancy firms within six months.
The project entails extensive development plans, including: the construction of four new seaports in the three provinces surrounding the canal; a new industrial zone west of the Gulf of Suez; and a technology valley in Ismailia.
By the beginning of 2015, the infrastructure work in the project would be issued to international companies on a usufruct basis for 25 years, according to Memish.
During his speech, Al-Sisi called on Egyptians to participate in Long Live Egypt Fund as the country needs around EGP 100bn to implement a number of necessary projects. He added that collecting donations is the “only solution” to find funds “because we will not ask for loans from foreign countries nor businessmen”, he said.
Al-Sisi added that Egypt requires an additional EGP 32bn to resume suspended projects.
After the inauguration ceremony, Al-Sisi headed to the east of the canal to sign a command to begin digging the new canal.