Chinese-Egyptian Consortium Selected for Coast-to-Coast High-Speed Rail Project in Egypt

On Sep­tem­ber 5, 2020, reports emerged that the Egypt­ian gov­ern­ment had select­ed a Chi­nese-Egypt­ian con­sor­tium to build a $9 bil­lion high-speed rail­way that will tra­verse the coun­try, con­nect­ing Ain Sokhna on the Gulf of Suez and Al Alamein on the Mediter­ranean Sea.

The con­sor­tium is com­prised of Chi­na Civ­il Engi­neer­ing Con­struc­tion Cor­po­ra­tion (CCECC), Chi­na Rail­way Con­struc­tion Cor­po­ra­tion, and Egypt­ian com­pa­nies Sam­crete and the Arab Orga­ni­za­tion for Indus­tri­al­iza­tion.  The rail­way, tout­ed to become the longest rail line in the Mid­dle East, has been referred to as the “Sec­ond Suez Canal” by, among oth­ers, the CEO of Sam­crete, one of the Egypt­ian firms involved in the project.  The rail line is expect­ed to reduce to three hours the time it takes to deliv­er pas­sen­gers and goods from coast-to-coast.  Con­cur­rent­ly, an agree­ment has report­ed­ly also been reached for Chi­nese part­ners to build fac­to­ries and man­u­fac­ture trains cars in Egypt, with the inten­tion of facil­i­tat­ing tech­nol­o­gy trans­fer to Egypt.

The project builds on a pat­tern of Chi­nese involve­ment in crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture projects in Egypt. The Chi­na Devel­op­ment Bank and the Indus­tri­al and Com­mer­cial Bank of Chi­na have both been active in financ­ing the devel­op­ment of the New Admin­is­tra­tive Cap­i­tal as well as the con­struc­tion of a mono­rail between the old cap­i­tal and the new, being devel­oped by CCECC.  The Chi­na Devel­op­ment Bank has also helped finance oth­er Egypt­ian infra­struc­ture projects by pro­vid­ing loans direct­ly to Egypt­ian finan­cial insti­tu­tions

More­over, the high-speed rail project rep­re­sents the lat­est in a string of Chi­nese rail projects in the coun­try.  It is one of four Egypt­ian rail projects cur­rent­ly in progress, and the Sudanese Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion has report­ed­ly pre­viewed a fifth that would con­nect Egypt to Sudan, which he has sug­gest­ed may be fund­ed by Chi­na.