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News - Egypt News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-07 07:36:11
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi prepared Egyptians on Saturday for more blackouts after lights went out across much of the country this week, saying it would take time and cost the cash-strapped state $12 billion to upgrade the decrepit power grid. Daily power cuts have become commonplace even in the capital Cairo but on Thursday extensive outages hit about half of Egypt, causing blackouts, halting factories and shutting part of the Cairo metro system. The disruption sparked an uproar in the Arab world's most populous country, where energy is a politically explosive issue. Energy shortages and outages were a key factor in deepening discontent with Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who faced mass protests before Sisi, then army chief, ousted him last year. In a candid television address on Saturday, Sisi said the dilapidated state of Egypt's power grid was the result of years of underinvestment and admitted there was no instant solution. "Have we developed our electricity production to meet our needs? Made stations to meet our needs? This did not happen because the financing required is large," Sisi said. "We must understand that matter cannot at all be resolved and remedied overnight." Egypt needed to add 12,000 megawatts to its grid over the next five years at a capital cost of about $12 billion, the president said. Each new power station would need fuel worth $700 million a year, Sisi added, saying that Egypt would struggle to find that cash while keeping its deficit under control. Egypt's economy has been hit by more than three years of political and economic turmoil following the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power. It is targeting economic growth of up to 5.8 percent in the next three years with the deficit staying at around 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), but the government is walking a fine line in its attempt to boost revenues and cut its deficit while luring investors and keeping services running. The government raised fuel prices by up to 78 percent in July in a long-awaited step to cut energy subsidies and ease the burden on the government's swelling budget deficit. Oil-producing Gulf countries have also come to Egypt's aid since Sisi took power, but major economic challenges remain. Sisi said that electricity was not the only sector in need of investment; thousands of villages lack proper sewage systems and the government is struggling to recruit new teachers. "If we work together on this, if we accept this challenge, if we are patient, we will succeed in putting Egypt in the place where it deserves to be," he said. Sisi has repeatedly called on Egyptians to make sacrifices as the government tries to shore up its finances. But his message that it was up to ordinary citizens to step up has proven tough to swallow for poorer Egyptians who struggle to remain above the poverty line. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-07 07:17:48
Egypt's interior ministry has denied allegations that a conscript was tortured to death in a security training camp in North Sinai. News circulated on several Egyptian media outlets Thursday that conscript Ahmed Khalil was tortured to death by a police officer in the North Sinai Karim Helal security training camp. Reports cited his fellow conscripts as claiming that Khalil was severly beaten by the officer after a brief disagreement during training. He was said to have lost consciousness and died. However, in a statement published on its official Facebook page, the interior ministry said that Khalil suffered "sudden exhaustion in training and died during resuscitation efforts." Meanwhile, prosecutors are looking into the incident and detained the officer in question for four days pending investigations. Major General Abd El-Fattah Othman, the interior minister's deputy for public relations, told privately-owned Al-Hayat TV Friday night that this was a "precautionary measure." More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 11:19:09
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Saturday that the country’s power crisis requires major funding and cannot be solved soon. In a speech broadcast on state television, al-Sisi announced that Egypt needs no less that "130 billion Egyptian pounds in the next five years" to develop the electricity sector to meet the population's current needs. A major power outage hit Cairo and several governorates on Thursday, paralysing the Cairo metro and knocking some local television stations off air. Power cuts have become common in Egypt in recent years, but have worsened this summer. The Ministry of Electricity has said it is trying to conserve power in the face of fuel shortages and sabotage attempts on power lines. In his speech, al-Sisi said the government is dealing with investors to get the required funding to tackle the crisis. He added that the country's electricity sector has suffered for decades from a lack of development and that its power plants need major renovation to create an adequate power system nationwide. "This will not be solved soon," he said. "We are facing many challenges and no government or president will be able to overcome them alone." He said he understands people's frustration, but urged them to be patient, adding that the power crisis is only one of the country's looming problems. Al-Sisi also mentioned the 11 security personnel who were killed in an IED attack in the tumultuous region of North Sinai earlier this week, saying that the government is battling terrorism and is working hard to ensure the safety of innocent civilians. Egypt's army has been waging a major offensive against Islamist militants in the violence-ridden northern part of the peninsula over the last year. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 08:38:19
A local militant group is working with the IS. The extremist group Islamic State has issued a new map redrawing the borders of its proposed caliphate to include Egypt, Reuters reported late on Friday. According to the Egyptian government, the country's main concern is in regard to militants over the Libyan frontier. Security officials say these groups are inspired by Islamic State, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, which became known for its swift land seizures in Iraq. But the IS appears to already be operating within the country, through a proxy militia group. A senior commander from the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis militia, which has killed hundreds of members of the Egyptian security forces over the last year, told Reuters that the IS has provided them with instructions on how to operate more effectively. "They teach us how to carry out operations. We communicate through the internet. They don't give us weapons or fighters. But they teach us how to create secret cells, consisting of five people. Only one person has contact with other cells," the commander said. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 08:25:14
The Egyptian government announced yesterday it is considering the formation of alliances with a number of major UAE investment groups for logistic zone projects, in addition to the establishment of centers and commodities exchanges for grain trading, reported to Mubasher. Egypt and the UAE groups will join hands in exporting and importing foodstuff. Egypt’s Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Khaled Hanafy was quoted by UAE’s Al Khaleej gazette as saying the new alliance targets exports to the region, Africa and Asia. He noted that the planned projects will be built along the new Suez Canal Axis. According to the minister, these projects will attract major Arab and global investors and thus create thousands of jobs. Hanafy met yesterday with Khozaim Abdullah Al Darei, chairman of a major UAE investment group, and Dr. Suleiman Al Nafisi, executive director of the same group. The meeting dealt with cooperation between the ministry and the group in grain collecting and storing, in addition to establishing a logistic zone for grain trading.
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 07:40:28
Egyptian-Ethiopian relations are improving amid mutual eagerness for closer ties between the two countries, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said shortly after arrival in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, for talks on the country's Grand Renaissance Dam project Thursday. Shoukry underlined that Ethiopia is showing concern for, and understanding of, Egyptian interests. The most recent round of talks between Egypt and Ethiopia in Sudan's Khartoum reflected a significant easing of the crisis that the controversial dam had caused. Egypt's irrigation minister said last week that 85 percent of issues pertaining to the dam had been resolved. Egypt's demand to commission experts to write a report on the design of the dam, and on ways to ensure that the build-up of its reservoir could be achieved without resulting in a major reduction in Egypt’s share of Nile water, was granted in tripartite negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia last week. Egypt is concerned that the dam Ethiopia is building for electricity generation purposes would negatively affect its share of Nile water, Egypt's state news agency MENA reported. Shoukry, who is meeting Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom, assured Egypt is keen to support Ethiopia's development through joint-projects and investment, underlining the necessity of cooperation in various fields, adding that the Nile River is central to the development of both countries. Closer relations start after negotiations In interview with Al-Ahram daily newspaper published Thursday, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam Moghazy said trust-building steps between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will start when negotiations are concluded. Moghazy didn't conceal difficulties encountered in the tripartite talks, but said many potential obstacles were overcome through the wisdom and patience of negotiators. Egypt's signing on to an agreement with Sudan and Ethiopia doesn't necessarily translate into implicit support of the Grand Renaissance Dam or its specifications and reservoir filling timeframe, Moghazy said. "Egypt's agreement is pending until the conclusion of studies. What we have achieved so far is establishing mechanisms for resolving disputes," Moghazy told Al-Ahram. Moghazy believes, however, that a watershed agreement was reached in last week's meeting whereby Ethiopia recognised Egypt and Sudan's right to Nile water and its responsibility not to cause harm to existing water shares. "Ethiopia pledged so in the agreement, which represents a turning point in building trust with Egypt not seen in decades," Moghazy said. According to the minister, the parties agreed to a period of six months to conduct the necessary studies and created a committee of Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese experts to present reports to an international consultancy that would finally issue the necessary and obligatory recommendations for building the dam. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 06:02:54
Islamic State, fighting to redraw the map of the Middle East, has been coaching Egypt's most dangerous militant group, complicating efforts to stabilize the biggest Arab nation. Confirmation that Islamic Sate, currently the most successful of the region's jihadi groups, is extending its influence to Egypt will sound alarm bells in Cairo, where the authorities are already facing a security challenge from home-grown militants. A senior commander from the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has killed hundreds of members of the Egyptian security forces over the last year, said Islamic State has provided instructions on how to operate more effectively. "They teach us how to carry out operations. We communicate through the internet," the commander, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters. "They don't give us weapons or fighters. But they teach us how to create secret cells, consisting of five people. Only one person has contact with other cells." Militant groups and the Egyptian state are old foes. Some of al Qaeda's most notorious commanders, including its current leader Ayman al-Zawahri, are Egyptian. One Egyptian president after another has crushed militant groups but they have always resurfaced. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 06:01:04
Egypt’s foreign minister said on Friday that Egypt insisted on a “win-win” scenario in the talks with Ethiopian officials on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam during his visit to Addis Ababa on Thursday. In a statement to state agency MENA following his return from Addis Ababa early on Friday, Sameh Shoukry said that there was a complete understanding from the Ethiopian side regarding Egyptian concerns about the project’s effect on its share of the Nile water. “The basis of our talks was built upon the recognition of Egypt’s water rights and needs; those needs cannot be touched because they are related to the Egyptian people’s life,” the foreign minister told MENA, adding that at the same time there were ways to preserve those rights and needs without negatively affecting the needs of Ethiopia for development and power generation. Shoukry visited Ethiopia on Thursday where he held talks with Ethiopia’s prime minister and foreign minister to discuss the dam as well as bilateral relations. Egyptian authorities have expressed major concerns regarding the hydroelectric dam currently under construction on the White Nile in Ethiopia’s highlands, arguing that a report by an international panel of experts last year indicated the need for further studies to determine the dam’s impact on Sudan and Egypt, which are both downstream from the project. “There were many ways to deal with Egypt’s water needs for drinking, food and agriculture and Ethiopia’s needs for development and generating power without affecting negatively on each other. There are already many ways and fields of cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia,” Shoukry added. Egypt’s foreign minister also revealed that his Ethiopian counterpart had told him that an Ethiopian public diplomacy delegation was going to visit Cairo within the coming days. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 05:49:43
Videos of the execution of young Egyptian men accused of spying for Israel, and mounting speculation about the appearance of Islamic State (IS) cells in Sinai and Upper Egypt point to a new wave of militant-related developments in Egypt. On Tuesday, 11 security personnel were killed in North Sinai when their armoured vehicle hit an explosive device planted on the road between Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah. Four other security personnel were injured. The current situation is too complex to be reduced to a handful of images, however gruesome. Security forces continue to record successes in the battle against terror, the latest being the killing of Fayez Abou Shita, and the successful raid on a terrorist den. Egyptian intelligence agencies have obtained important information from such raids, including computers that have provided invaluable insight into the militant operations. Security agencies had estimated the number of militants in Sinai at around 8,000. If that figure was correct, then following the elimination or capture of militant elements, it is unlikely that more than 500 remain at large. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 05:49:37
Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker announced on Friday that the power outage crisis that hit Egypt on Thursday was over and the situation is now stable. Power cuts have become common in recent years, particularly in summer months, but Thursday saw an unusually severe power outage affecting Cairo and other major cities for several hours as a result of a technical malfunction affecting the national grid. The power cut saw the Cairo metro grind to a halt, and several local television stations went off air. In a statement on Friday to state agency MENA, Shaker said that there had been a load reduction on the national grid and 90 percent of the grid’s capacity had been restored. Shaker promised that the full capacity of the electric grid in Egypt would be restored soon. More»