Egypt signs energy accords at conference in new capital

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Egypt said it had signed several energy accords at a conference in its partially built new capital on Saturday, including a $430-million deal for Texas-based Noble Energy to pump natural gas through the East Mediterranean Gas Co’s pipeline.

Under the agreement, with financing from the US International Development Finance Corp, Noble will also manufacture petroleum products in partnership with Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings.

The cabinet detailed the plans on the last day of an Africa investment forum, one of the first major events to be held on the site of the new administrative capital being built in the desert east of Cairo.

The city is one of a number of mega-projects launched under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and will include ministries, a business district, a diplomatic quarter, residential districts and a large park.

The first civil servants are expected to arrive next year, though much of the site is still earth and sand and the project has run into delays and financing problems.

Egypt has held the chair of the African Union this year and has been trying to promote itself as a linchpin for African trade and economic development.

It is also seeking to position itself as an energy hub and a regional leader in renewable energy.

Among the other accords announced on Saturday, Amsterdam-based Lekela said it would start construction work on its West Bakr wind power plant, which will have a capacity of 250 megawatts at a total investment of $350 million, the cabinet said.

Lekela CEO Chris Antonopoulos said Siemens Gamesa would build the plant in the Gulf of Suez, creating an expected 550 jobs, according to the cabinet statement.

Egypt also signed an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) worth $201 million to improve the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Co’s electricity grid. The lender will also finance a new asphalt production unit for the Suez Oil Processing Co worth $50 million.

The EBRD signed further deals with Sarwa Capital Holding and state-owned Banque Misr to issue 500 million Egyptian pounds ($31.13 million) in securitization bonds for the government’s New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA).

NUCA, 51 percent owned by the military’s engineering authority and 49 percent by the housing ministry, is developing the as yet unnamed new capital.

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation and the African Export-Import Bank also made available the first $100 million tranche of a $500 million loan to boost Egypt’s trade with other African and Muslim countries.

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