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Thursday, 06 August 2015

Egypt opens $8.2bn Suez Canal expansion

Egyptian authorities have opened the $8.2 billion Suez Canal expansion today, inaugurating a new 35 km stretch of waterway that it is hoped will attract further East-West trade and reignite investor interest in the country’s port and infrastructure sector.

“The New Suez Canal is more than just a new waterway and an astonishing feat of engineering. It is a catalyst for the Egyptian people which will unleash a renewed sense of pride and a more prosperous future," Admiral Mohab Mameesh, managing director of the Suez Canal Authority said.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) which has managed the development hopes it will attract an additional $13.23 billion in revenue to the country by 2023.  The project has involved deepening and widening of existing channels to allow for larger mega-vessels and to create a two lane system that allows ships to pass simultaneously.

The mega-project has been a cornerstone of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s policy as he tries to steer the country away from recent political and economic chaos that resulted following the overthrow of ex-President Morsi.

“The New Suez Canal is at the heart of a vision to construct a fully developed industrial area along the canal known as the Suez Canal Zone. The zone will see the creation of a huge industrial area catering to a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, logistics, ship repair, and more,” an SCA spokesperson commented.

Although there has been broad support for the government’s strategy to invest in the country’s port and shipping sector and reposition Egypt as a key player in the global shipping trade the launch today has been marred by threats of violence from terrorist factions in Sinai province.

Terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)  have threatened to kill a kidnapped Croatian national in on-going fighting in the region, highlighting some of the uncertainty for investors considering financing  projects in the region.

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