Construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, to be built by Russia, will begin in the next two years, Reuters news agency reports.
The announcement was made today by a Cairo official. The 4,800-megawatt capacity nuclear power plant will be situated in the north of the country, and up and running by 2026.
This announcement does not come as a surprise, considering Egypt and Russia signed a preliminary agreement in 2015. Another extended agreement was signed in December 2017, as Russia Today reported. At the time, it was announced that Russia will finish constructing the power plant by 2028-2029. The project is estimated to cost $21 billion, with Russia covering 85 percent of the construction costs.
“I am pleased to note that our economic links are developing at a fairly high pace, and we really have a lot of good projects ahead,” Vladimir Putin said.
According to the American Interest, Cairo and Moscow have grown closer together due to Egypt’s disappointment in U.S. foreign policy. The lack of American engagement in the country seems to have left the door open for Russia. Putin has eagerly stepped in, which is particularly evident in the 50-year agreement signed in May this year, meant to establish a Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ) in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone).
The RIZ project, the American Interest noted, is seen by Egyptian officials as an investor-magnet, meant to attract up to $70 billion in investments, creating approximately 35,000 jobs.
Russia would also benefit from the deal, considering the country remains under intense sanctions from the United States and the European Union. For Russia, the project would provide an access point for goods export to Latin America, Middle East, and Africa.
The mutually-beneficial and continually expanding relationship between Egypt and Russia has, according to the American Interest, influenced and boosted both, Russian and Egyptian, economies. For instance, Egyptian exports to Russia rose by 26 percent in 2017, and bilateral trade between the two countries could increase from $6 billion to $10 billion in 2018.
Expressing concern about the United States’ lack of involvement in the region, the American Interest wrote that “given the deteriorating situation in the broader Middle East and Russia’s rush to capitalize on it to cement itself as a stakeholder in the region, there is no excuse for the United States passively sitting on the sidelines…Without diplomatic talent on the ground, Washington risks ceding hard-won influence in the region without putting up the slightest resistance.”
As The Atlantic reported, President Donald Trump called for Russia to be readmitted to the Group of Seven industrialized nations.