Feature: Egyptians cheer up for building new Suez Canal   2014-08-06 19:50:15            

CAIRO, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- "Finally, Egypt will build giant national project "new Suez Canal" by independent contributions from individual Egyptians," Amr Moustafa, 38-year-old accountant told Xinhua on Wednesday.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unveiled on Tuesday the construction of a 72-km "new Suez Canal" which aims to speed up traffic alongside the existing waterway that connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, and boost Egypt's battered economy.

Egypt has been engulfed by political turmoil, protests and polarization since 2011, which saw the ouster of the long-ruling president Hosni Mubarak, and his predecessor Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi.

"It is time for Egyptians who suffered lax security, differences, ailing economy, high rates of unemployment and the currently austerity measure to cheer up and unite under one big dream," Moustafa said, adding that all Egyptians should contribute and be part of this national project, as he was donating for "Long Live Egypt Fund" at one of Egypt's National Bank. This fund has been launched by President Sisi for establishing national developmental projects without high-interest foreign loans.

Sisi said that the "new Suez Canal" project would receive no financing from abroad, instead, 500 million shares of the project would be offered to domestic investors at a rate of 100 Egyptian pounds (nearly 14 U.S. dollars) per share, and 100 dollars per share for expatriates, 10 pounds for the students (nearly 1.3 U.S. dollars). "We want all Egyptians to hold shares in this project, and enjoy its interests," Sisi added.

It took 10 years to construct the existing 163-km Suez Canal, which ended in 1869. More than 100,000 Egyptians lost their lives in the construction. The benefits of the project were shared by Britain, France and Israel until 1956 when the canal was nationalized by Egypt's then president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was praised by Egyptians for ending the colonial invasion, nationalizing the canal and pursuing several big projects during his 14 years as president.

The Suez expansion plans reminded Egyptians of Nasser's own state-led infrastructure projects like the high Dam which kept Egypt in the line of developed countries, said Am Hussein, 72, a fruit seller, at Maadi district in southern Cairo.

Am Hussein said he will buy bonds for all his family members and will encourage his grandchildren to contribute even with ten pounds, adding that "it's for the Egyptians and it should be funded by Egyptians."

According to Said Tawfiq, professor of International Investment at Cairo University, the government should offer low price shares from one to five pounds per each to encourage all society classes for subscription in new artificial waterway.

Fifty years ago, the United States relied on funding its giant health insurance project on all citizens even the very poor, by offering one dollar share, the professor gave an example, explaining this system is known as the "adventure capital theory" which is used in the big developmental projects, when governments lack funds instead of borrowing from abroad.

Tawfiq also suggested a maximum of 50,000 shares for one person "to prevent any attempts of monopoly."

The new project will be implemented in one year from now, the shortest period for building such national project in Egypt's modern history, and is expected to provide more than one million job opportunities, Mohab Mamish, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority said, adding that the new canal with its surrounded services will turn Egypt into an industrial, mercantile and logistics center.

Different from many announced national projects during Mubarak era, "we will see the profits of this project after only one year, " said Mohamed Mansour, 26-year-old, who sells used cloths near Giza metro station.

He added that this kind of short term national projects with the creation of job opportunities would raise hopes of better life for the youth.

Editor: xuxin
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