Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel al-Sisi attended a virtual ceremony to mark the beginning of construction at the fourth and final reactor for the $25bn El Dabaa nuclear power plant (NPP).
The leaders of the two countries gave symbolic permission to pour the “first concrete” into the foundation of unit 4.
The four units are being built concurrently with starts at intervals of about six months.
Egypt wants 9% of its electricity to come from nuclear by 2030.
That could be achieved when the first two reactors start generating.
Alexey Likhachev, the director-general of Russian nuclear engineer Rosatom, described the pour as “a landmark event in the history of Egypt’s nuclear energy and Russian-Egyptian relations”.
He said the NPP, the first in Africa for 40 years, was “the largest bilateral cooperation project since the construction of the Aswan Dam” and “one of the two largest nuclear construction projects in the world”.
The project is located on the Mediterranean coast about 320km northwest of Cairo and will comprise four generation-III-plus VVER-1200 units.
The December 2017 contract paving the way for the project stipulates that Rosatom will build the plant and supply fuel for its life cycle.
It will also help to train engineers and technicians to maintain and operate the plant for the first 10 years of its operation. Rosatom is also contracted to build a special storage facility for used nuclear fuel.