• Suez Canal upgrade reaches 80 per cent completion
  • Official opening planned for 6 August

Egypt’s Suez Canal redevelopment is set for an official opening on 6 August 2015.

“The project is more than 80 per cent complete and climbing as we speak, with more than 210 million tonnes of sand excavated,” says Admiral Mohab Mameesh, chairman and managing director of the Suez Canal Authority.

MEED reported in mid-May that the expansion of the Suez Canal is set to open earlier than scheduled. The canal’s expansion, which was scheduled for completion on 6 August, is now expected to open in late July.

Following a national subscription to raise the necessary funds, $8.5 billion was promised in just six days by ordinary Egyptians. Work began on 6 August 2014.

The project to build a new 72 kilometre waterway will enable two-way traffic and double the current daily ship capacity.

Plans suggested the project would take three years, but is expected to be completed in just one year.

The Suez Canal is an important source of scarce foreign currency for Egypt.

Egypt hopes the canal authority will increase its annual revenue from $5.3bn in 2015 to $13.2bn in 2023.

The Finance Ministry is pushing through legislation for a 500 square-kilometre Suez Canal Zone (SCZone). It will cater to a broad range of sectors, including manufacturing, logistics, ship repair, and more. Manmmesh expects the zone to create 1 million jobs over the next 15 years.

The investment needed is estimated at $50bn, with $15bn for infrastructure and utilities, $15bn for enhancing ports, and $20bn in industrial and other areas.

As part of the SCZone project, two dry ports are proposed to be built at 10 Ramadan City and in Ismailia to promote the movement of goods between the zone and the domestic market.

Cairo hopes the investment will maintain the canal’s position as a major maritime trade route against growing competition.

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