Alongside the existing 145-year-old historic waterway in a multi-billion dollar project aimed at expanding trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia, Egypt plans to dig a new Suez Canal costing around $4 billion.
The Suez Canal is a vital source of hard currency for a country that has suffered a slump in tourism and foreign investment since its 2011 uprising and earns Egypt about $5 billion a year in revenues
“This giant project will be the creation of a new Suez Canal parallel to the current channel of a total length of 72 kilometres (44.74 miles),” Mohab Mamish, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told a conference in Ismailia, a port town on the Canal. His comments were broadcast by state television. He also said that the total estimated cost of drilling the new channel would be about $4 billion and be completed in five years, though Egypt will strive to finish it within a more ambitious three-year deadline.
Egyptian President Adel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army chief, said the armed forces would be in charge of the new project for security reasons. Up to 20 Egyptian firms could be involved in the project but would work under military supervision, he said.
The project aims to raise Egypt’s international profile and establish it as a major trade hub.