Ayman Hamzah (L), spokesperson of Egypt's Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy, speaks during an interview in Cairo, Egypt, on Sept. 6, 2018. China's investments in Egyptian electricity sector are increasing continuously, Ayman Hamzah said. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
by Marwa Yahya
CAIRO, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- China's investments in Egyptian electricity sector are increasing continuously, Ayman Hamzah, spokesperson of Egypt's Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy said.
Egypt and China are cooperating on a series of projects in production, distribution, transportation and services of electricity, Hamzah told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
China and Egypt signed two deals during a just-concluded visit to China by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who participated in the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on Sept. 3-4.
The deals include construction of a power plant in Hamrawein region at the Red Sea coast, 500 miles away from Cairo. The plant will be built by China's Shanghai Electric and Dongfang Electric Cooperation and Egypt's Hassan Allam Construction with investments worth of 4.4 billion U.S. dollars.
The plant, the largest of its kind in the Middle East region with a production capacity of 6,000 megawatt, will be constructed in six years, according to Hamzah.
Hamrawein's plant will meet environmental standards by using clean coal technology, which will reduce emissions from coal burning, such as carbon dioxide, among others, Hamzah said.
The other deal is to build a 600-meter-high pumping and storage station, which will rank the fourth worldwide, in the Suez Canal Mountain of Ataka.
The station will be built by Chinese Sinohydro Company in six years. It will have a production capacity of 2,400 megawatt with eight units and cost 2.6 billion U.S. dollars, Hamzah added.
Egypt aims to meet 20 percent of its energy needed from renewable sources by 2022 and up to 40 percent by 2035. Renewable energy currently meets only about three percent of Egypt's needs.
Acute power shortages after Egypt's 2011 uprising led to frequent summer blackouts and cuts of industrial outputs.
Egypt suffered a shortage of electricity in 2014 of 6,000 megawatt, amounting to one quarter of its production, Hamzah added.
In 2015, Egypt signed deals worth of 10 billion dollars with Germany's giant Siemens corporation to build gas and wind power plants.
President al-Sisi reiterated on many occasions that energy was a matter of "national security" to meet the need of investments and development projects.
Egypt expects foreign direct investment (FDI) to grow by 20 to 25 percent in the fiscal year 2018-19, according to a recent Finance Ministry statement.
Multinational companies are considering Egypt as a hub for exports into other Middle Eastern and African markets, said the statement. Improvement of overall environment including electricity will play an important role in attracting FDI.
"Egypt now has a self-sufficiency of electricity, with 25 percent reserve," Hamzah said, noting that 515 billion Egyptian pounds (nearly 29 billion U.S. dollars) were spent on the electricity sector since 2014.
"Egypt seeks to benefit from the Chinese experience by sending technicians to China for training and promoting cooperation between local companies from the two countries," Hamzah added.