A new Suez Canal
Egypt wants to kick-start its ailing economy and initiate a comprehensive infrastructure programme. The construction of a new Suez Canal is at the core of the effort.
Egypt wants to build a new waterway to relieve the 163 km Suez Canal. A new 35 km thoroughfare will be excavated parallel to the current canal, Mohab Mamish, chairman of Egypt’s canal authority, announced recently at a conference in the port town of Ismaïlia. On top of that, the existing canal is to be widened and deepened over the same length. The move will result in a new 72 km Suez Canal. The waterway currently in use operates a one-way traffic scheme, but has three two-way lanes to relieve traffic, with waiting zones along almost 80 km of the canal’s overall length. The estimated cost of digging the new thoroughfare is said to be approximately USD 4 billion.
The Suez Canal earns Egypt about USD 5 billion a year, making it one of the most important sources of foreign currency for the country – particularly since the tourist industry began to register decreasing figures. When the construction work is completed, Egypt expects the facility to generate annual revenues of up to USD 13.5 billion. The project may be finished in three years, though Egypt wants to do all it can to phase in the new canal before this deadline. No locks are required for the channel, as there is no height difference that has to be to overcome, as is the case with the Panama Canal. Up to 20 Egyptian firms could be involved in the building project. They will be supervised by the national army, which controls a large part of the Egyptian economy.
The country’s new programme will also include tunnels, infrastructure and tourism zones. In contrast to the new canal, these schemes will be open to foreign investors. Overall, the Suez Canal authority expects the project to create 1 million new jobs.