China back in ‘New Cairo’ mega-scheme with $3bn deal

State-owned giant China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) has re-entered Egypt’s huge project to build a brand new capital after signing a $3bn deal this week to build a central business district there featuring Africa’s tallest building.

The deal signed on 11 October and witnessed by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi sees CSCEC building a 345m-high skyscraper, 12 business complexes, five residential buildings and two hotels over half a square kilometre, Xinhua reports.

The district will sit in Egypt’s planned new administrative capital, a mega project planned for an area 50km east of Cairo.

In February CSCEC was reported to have pulled out of a $3bn deal to build offices in the new capital over disagreements over costs. Construction costs soared in Egypt after its pound lost nearly half its value against the dollar when the government agreed to float the currency in return for a $12bn bail-out from the IMF in November 2016.

But the deal is important to China diplomatically.

China’s Ambassador to Egypt, Song Aiguo, was present at the signing this week and told Xinhua that it is part of cooperation between the two countries within the framework of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Egypt in January 2016, and signed a memorandum of understanding on the project.

Photograph: In March 2015, US architecture giant Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) produced an "initial framework and core principles" for Egypt’s new capital project, rendered here (SOM).

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