Egypt, China grow closer with new development deals worth blns

Egypt and China signed billions of pounds’ worth of energy and infrastructure agreements during President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s recent visit to Beijing, another sign of the growing economic and political ties between the two countries.

The three-day visit — Sisi’s second trip to China in less than a year — came during his weeklong tour of Asia, a trip aimed at expanding economic cooperation with countries in the region. The president began his trip in Singapore, and heads to Indonesia on Friday.

During the Beijing meetings, Egypt approved a package that includes LE50 billion in deals for energy projects, small business loans and a memorandum of understanding for the construction of Egypt’s new capital city.

The energy deals include a US$2 billion project in which Chinese company Sinohydro would build a 2,100-megawatt hydropower dam near Mount Ataka, a project that was announced in March.

In addition, Chinese companies Shanghai x and Dongfang signed a deal to build a LE30 billion, 4,000-megawatt coal-fired power plant, according to the state-owned news outlet Al-Ahram. Plans for Chinese companies to build coal-power stations in Egypt were first announced during Sisi’s previous state visit to China in December 2014.

Al-Ahram also reported that Chinese companies would be involved in an LE5 billion project to develop an electricity network to transfer electricity from new power plants being constructed by German firm Siemens, as well as to transmit electricity from the proposed nuclear power plant at Dabaa.

China will finance 85 percent of the project, to be repaid over 15 years with a 2.5 percent proposed interest rate.

On the infrastructure side, Egypt’s investment minister signed a memorandum of understanding with the mammoth state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation to develop part of Egypt’s new administrative capital.

The project, called The Capital Cairo, was announced at the Egypt Economic Development Conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh this March. It was presented as a US$45 billion scheme to build, from scratch, a 700-square km city in the desert.

Emirati firm Capital City Partners signed an MoU to construct the project, but talks reportedly broke down in June, leaving Egypt searching for a new partner.

Sisi also presided over the signing of a US$100 million soft loan from the China Development Bank to support small and medium enterprises in Egypt. 


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