Moscow’s move to fund and establish the nuclear plant reflects the strength of political ties between Egypt and Russia, Aly Abdel Naby, former vice-president of the Egyptian Nuclear Plants Authority, told Xinhua.
Russia’s provision of nuclear technology is mainly governed by politics, he pointed out.
The deal comes three weeks after a Russian airliner crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 on board. Russia confirmed that a bomb was behind the crash.
Amid concerns over tension in the relations between the two countries, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Thursday that the nuclear deal “carries a message on the weight of relations between us and Russia.”
“The agreement was a manifestation of the strong relations between Cairo and Moscow as well as full understanding between the Egyptian and the Russian people,” Sisi added.
Sisi announced the project in February during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Cairo. The plant is to be built in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast in the northwest of the country.
Speaking of the airplane tragedy, Sisi said the “Egyptian people understand the concerns of the Russian people and their leaders regarding the security of their citizens.”
Abdel Naby said the deal was originally due to be inked in December, but rushing the time was due to the crisis of the Russian plane in Egypt.
“Egypt wanted to send a message that the plane crash won’t influence the bilateral relations,” he added.
Egypt had been considering a nuclear plant at Dabaa since the 1980s under former President Hosni Mubarak. The project has been frozen amid concerns of Dabaa residents after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The nuclear power expert said in addition to the political ties, the Russian technical and financial offer was the best among other seven countries for building four reactors.
Russia will grant Egypt 17 billion U.S. dollars in loan that will cover 85 percent of the costs of the four reactors. Egypt will pay back throughout 35 years from the revenues of the reactors production, Abdel Naby explained.
Egypt, with its growing needs of energy due to a increasing population of nearly 90 million and its plans to lure investments and build mega national projects, is seeking to diversify its energy sources.
Sisi have always reiterated that power is a key in developing Egypt, reviving its ailing economy and eventually creating job opportunities.
Sisi said Egypt seeks to generate around 4,300 megawatts of power in the coming three years through the establishment of solar and wind energy plants.
Nuclear power is the cheapest source for energy, according to Professor Youssri Abou Sahdi, an expert in energy affairs.
Egypt’s Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker said the agreement is for the construction and operation of a “third generation” plant with four 1,200 MW reactors. The first two reactors will operate in 2025, the third in 2026 and the fourth reactor will generate electricity at the beginning of 2027.
“It was a dream for Egypt, to have a peaceful nuclear program to produce electricity,” Sisi said.
“The country will not bear the cost of building this plant. It will be paid back through the production of electricity that will be generated by the plant,” Sisi added.
Away from the Russian generous loan, Abou Sahdi believed that the establishment of a nuclear plant in Egypt is very important step and a perfect investment when compared with electricity generated by solar or wind stations, which need much funds for maintenance.
“Generally speaking the revenues of any nuclear plant, even funded by Egypt, will cover its original construction costs in 10 years after its operation,” he added.
Professor Abou Sahdi agreed with nuclear expert Abdel Naby that signing the deal is the beginning of real implementation of Egypt’s dreams towards owning nuclear power.
He hailed the Moscow-based Rosatom Company experience in the nuclear field, noting the company is establishing reactors in other 11 countries. Enditem
source- Marwa Yahya/Xinhua.