By: EDWIN OKOTH
Thousands of regional dignitaries and millions of Egyptians gather Thursday as the country opens its mega maritime infrastructure set to double revenues from international trade.
The Sh850 billion second Suez Canal promises to be a catalyst for inter-cementing Egypt’s position in the global trading arena and propelling its centuries old maritime industry. Egypt President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is due to host visitors from all over the world in the opening feat.
The new vessel channel will funnel close to 15 per cent of world trade to Egypt and effectively to Africa.
While addressing the UN general assembly in New York on August 5, 2014 President El Sisi outlined the vision for the construction of the second waterway with the aim of doubling one of the world’s most utilised trade passages.
“It is the Egyptian people’s gift to the world,” he said. The canal links the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Excitement is rife in Cairo with Egyptians celebrating in the streets as official businesses are expected to be interrupted in what appears to be an unofficial public holiday.
Excitement is rife in Cairo with Egyptians celebrating in the streets as official businesses expected to be interrupted today in what appears to be unofficial public holiday.
FUNDED BY EGYPTIANS
The project has been fully funded and built by the Egyptians in what has been dubbed as one of the most successful models of funding a project of this scale.
The president implemented a national subscription in which the population was invited to invest in the canal in order to raise the necessary funds.
In six days, 8.5 billion US dollars had been raised and work commenced on August 6th.
The Suez Canal Authority which was entrusted to execute the project after managing and maintaining the canal for close to six decades will guide today’s event.
The 700 miles long canal that rivals the architectural feats of the great pyramids employed more than 43,000 workers in the twelve months it was done, 2 years before its planned completion date.
The major project in Egypt’s history saw the relocation of thousands from the crowded Nile Valley and Delta to new areas as well as transformed a small town to large city of Ismailiya, port Saeed, port Fouad and Port Tawfik.
It is billed to be a powerful engine for the Egyptian economy.
A 100 square kilometres Suez canal zone has been incorporated to provide a platform for supporting multiple skill-led industries and create close to 1 million jobs.
Another 400 kilometers has been set aside for industrial development.
The new waterway include 35 kilometres of dry digging about 5 times the length of the existing canal and is wider than the existing canal by 40 meters (340 metres) at its widest.
Today’s opening enables large vessels to pass in both directions at the same time without stopping hence reduces the current wait time from 18 to 8hours.
The upgrade is set to boost trade revenue for Egypt from the 5.3 billion dollars per annum to 13.3 billion by 2023.