Hailed as a boost to industrialisation in Egypt, the emirati investor Gamal Al Ghurair is reported to have "successfully completed" a $1bn deal with the National Bank of Egypt to reclaim and cultivate 75,600ha (180,000 feddans) part-way up the Nile Valley at Minya in order to establish the world’s largest beet sugar factory.
Fed by the new beet fields, the factory will produce 1 million tonnes of sugar a year, which would replace the million tonnes Egypt imported in 2018, cutting the need for $800m worth of annual sugar imports, Daily News Egypt reported, drawing on a statement, written in Arabic, apparently issued by the deal’s signatories.
Those signatories were Al Ahly Capital Holding, the investment arm of the National Bank of Egypt, Gamal Al Ghurair, managing director of Dubai’s El Canal Sugar Co., which operates the Al Khaleej sugar refinery at Jebel Ali, Dubai (pictured), and another Dubai investor, a company named as Murban.
The exact financing arrangements are not clear from the report, which says the UAE’s contribution amounts to 70% of the capital, worth $300m (E£5.4bn), while Al Ahly Capital contributes to 30%. The figures do not total $1bn.
Nevertheless, National Bank of Egypt’s chairman Hisham Okasha hailed the deal as confirming the attractiveness Egypt for foreign investors.
Daily News reports Al Ghurair as claiming the project will provide 2,500 direct and indirect jobs during the construction period, as well as 1,500 permanent jobs, and 50,000 indirect jobs through contractual agriculture.
Minya is a city of around 257,000 people located on the Nile approximately 270km by road upriver from Cairo.
The project has been mooted for some time. At the start of February this year, Al Ghurair announced the plan to an industry conference in Dubai, Reuters reported.Â Â
Plans for the refinery also appeared in a notice by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt in 2014.
If it goes ahead, Al Ghurair has said the plant would be operating by 2020.
However, according to Daily News, Al Ahly Capital Holding is still negotiating with foreign banks and export credit agencies in several countries to get the necessary funding.
Image: Investor Gamal Al Ghurair’s Al Khaleej sugar refinery at Jebel Ali, Dubai (Al Khaleej Sugar)