Egypt Watch

Egypt builds EGP 360bn high-speed railway during peak of economic crisis

Egypt has announced a project for a high-speed electric train extending 1,000 kilometres across the country to be implemented by Siemens with a cost estimated at EGP 360 billion. “The project is to start immediately to connect Ain Sokhna city on Suez Gulf with New Alamein city on the Mediterranean Sea passing through the New Administrative Capital,” said the Egyptian President in a statement, adding that the project is to be concluded within two years.

The announcement came after Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, and expressed how grateful he was. “I appreciate the offer presented by Siemens, which previously presented an excellent price and high quality in the project of power plants,” said al-Sisi during the meeting with Kaeser. The announcement raised questions regarding the high cost of the project and the timing, which comes at the peak of an economic crisis generated by COVID-19, for which Egypt requested a stand-by arrangement from the International Monetary Fund. The economic crisis has brought foreign debt to unprecedented and alarming levels in parallel with deteriorating living conditions of the majority of Egyptians.

On the other hand, al-Sisi’s statements evoked previous well-known statements made by him, in which he refused development of the railways in Egypt due to the high cost of such a development, which he estimated at EGP 10 billion. A well-known Egyptian editor-in-chief who talked to Egypt Watch on the condition of anonymity said that Chinese official sources told him that al-Sisi had given the power plant project to Siemens after its CEO guaranteed official German support for al-Sisi’s regime.