Officials in Egypt announced in early August that the country plans to build a new Suez Canal alongside the existing 145-year-old waterway in a multibillion-dollar project to expand trade along the shipping route between Europe and Asia.
Reuters news services called the project, to be run by the army, a step by new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stimulate Egypt’s struggling economy.
The Suez Canal earns Egypt about $5 billion a year. An official in the Suez Canal Authority told Reuters the new canal was set to boost annual revenues to $13.5 billion by 2023.
The new channel is part of a larger project to expand port and shipping facilities around the canal. A promotional video suggests the project would cut waiting times for vessels and allow ships to pass each other on the canal.
“This giant project will be the creation of a new Suez Canal parallel to the current channel of a total length of 72 kilometers (44.74 miles),” Mohab Mamish, authority chairman, told a conference in Ismailia, a port city on the canal.
He said the total estimated cost of drilling the new channel would be about $4 billion and be completed in five years, though Sisi said he hoped it would be finished within a more ambitious one-year deadline.
The original canal, linking the Mediterranean and Red seas, took 10 years. It slashed weeks if not months off journeys between Europe and Asia that otherwise necessitated a trip round Africa.