By Islam Atriss and Sara Aggour
The Chief Program officer at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Mayada Magdy announced that the organisation has finalised studies which aim to measure wind energy capabilities in the western area of Nile. Magdy’s announcement came during the Future and Investment Opportunities in New and Renewable Energy Conference on Tuesday.
JICA has been involved in several projects in Egypt, such as the expansion of the Abu El Reesh children’s hospital, the Grand Egyptian Museum Conservation Centre project (GEM) and the construction of the first phase of the metro’s fourth line.
The Daily News Egypt sat down with Magdy and Head of the JICA office in Egypt Hideki Matsunaga to obtain the latest updates regarding the organisation’s involvement in Egypt.
Minister of Planning Ashraf El-Araby announced earlier that the $20m plans to expand Abu El Reesh children’s hospital will begin soon. When can we expect that to occur exactly?
Right now, what we are doing is working on the preparations for the final design and bidding documents. Basic commitments have already been made by the Japanese government when Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy came to Japan. The thing is we are still at the stage of preparation of the bidding documents, and there are some technical issues; so I think construction itself will be starting probably by next year.
Can you specify which quarter exactly during the coming year?
You never know what is going to happen with bidding and the preparations of bidding documents, so we don’t want to speculate the exact timing at this moment.
You talked about the west of Nile valley studies during the conference. Was it a study conducted following a government request or did JICA see a good potential in the area?
We did not select the west of Nile valley by ourselves. The study has been requested by the Egyptian government, the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA). Basically, there is a wind atlas, which has been prepared a while ago. This wind atlas identifies several locations of potential wind energy in all of Egypt, and the west of Nile valley is one of the areas.
Based on the request from the NREA, JICA has been asked to access and study the potential of wind energy development in the whole area. The area has huge potential, but JICA will never finance the whole area. We thought that we would contribute to the private sector’s development in the future. So, we thought we would [conduct] the initial studies so that the private sector can, later on, invest in these areas. The study has been recently completed. It has not yet been shared among different organisations.
Can we say that there has been a response from private investors?
Well, this area is still very raw, so it is not very ready for investment in terms of transmission networking, soil penetrations and roads. So, it is still very raw and there should be future development in the area before the private sector can come. But this is just an initial study and we thought to use this event to share [with] everyone its great potential.
Have there been any requests or interest shown by the private sector in viewing the results of the study?
This study is owned by NREA, so we support them; but finally, this product [the finalised study] is owned by them. So if the private sector offers requests, it will be through NREA, and I am sure that they [NREA] are communicating with the private sector.
What are the latest developments with the solar panels project in Burj Al-Arab?
We have financed the construction of a new town in Burj Al-Arab, and that was completed. Now what we are discussing is in the area of aviation. [We are studying possibilities] of constructing a new terminal, Terminal 2, next to the existing terminal, which we financed. It was discussed that the solar panels are going to be put up on the roof of the new terminal so that energy necessary for the terminal would be supplied from these panels. At this moment, we have not received official requests from the Egyptian government for this project. We have prepared the feasibility study for the construction of the new terminal with some solar power energy supply and we are waiting for the Egyptian government to submit their request to the Japanese government.
What are the updates on the first phase of the metro’s fourth line? Has a request been submitted from the Egyptian government to JICA for financing studies on the second phase of the metro’s fourth lines?
We are in the stage of preparations for the bidding documents and specifications, and [we will] refer to consultants who are going to be involved in the supervision of the construction. There are certain issues, which we are discussing with the National Authority of Tunnels, and I hope we can solve the small issues and [subsequently] start the construction.
Unofficially, because we have not received any letters, we have been requested to begin a feasibility study. We fully agree with the need for this study. But having said that, since we have not even begun the construction of the first phase in the fourth line, we can’t start with it. The construction of the first phase in the metro is said to take seven to eight years, so there is no meaning to hurrying [the construction of] the second phase. But once we see the real progress of phase one, it maybe be the time to study the second phase.
The loan for the metro’s fourth line was allocated to the Egyptian government. Do you have any idea of how much was spent?
We have allocated the government with approximately $350m and provided, on a grant basis, approximately $20m to prepare the documents and specifications. At this moment, no money was used at all because that is going to be used for construction. Right now all the spending is going out of the grant money [and not the loan].