President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has approved a US$25 billion loan from Russia to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, according to a decree published in the Official Gazette on Thursday.
The deal dates back to November 2015, when Russia and Egypt agreed to collaborate on the construction and operation of the Dabaa nuclear power station. Plans call for the construction of four units, each capable of producing 1,200 MW of electricity.
The loan is to be paid over 13 years starting in 2016. It is to be repaid in 43 installments over 22 years, starting in 2029, at a 3 percent interest rate.
It will cover 85 percent of the cost of the project, and Egypt will be responsible for the remaining 15 percent, according to the decree.
In December 2015, a month after the deal was signed, Egypt’s government banned unauthorized reporting about the nuclear power station, stipulating that all reports must be cleared by the Ministry of Electricity and security authorities.
The 17-km stretch of beachfront property allocated for the project in the 1980s was traditionally used by local Bedouin for grazing their animals, access to sea fishing and small-scale agriculture. The area was forcibly evicted in 2003, re-occupied during the 2011 revolution and evicted again in 2012.
The power plant deal came on the heels of a Russian plane crash that killed all 224 people on board shortly after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh last October. The Kremlin had announced in November that a terrorist attack caused the fatal crash.
Egypt only conceded that the crash might have been a criminal act in April, when the Egyptian general prosecutor referred investigations into the incident to the State Security Prosecution.