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Tue 12 Feb 2008 04:26 PM

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Egypt to plough $16.3bn into transportation

Investment over next five years to meet demand from rapid economic growth.

Egypt expects investments of at least 90 billion Egyptian pounds ($16.3 billion) over the next five years in its transport infrastructure to meet demand from rapid economic growth, the transport minister said on Tuesday.

Egypt's economy is growing at its fastest yearly pace in decades, straining ageing transport systems. A series of fatal road and rail accidents in recent years have triggered a public outcry over the government's handling of transport safety.

"The economy grew 7.1% last year, and we need efficient infrastructure to sustain that," Mohamed Mansour told newswire Reuters. "We need to upgrade our road, rail and Nile transport systems."

Egypt expects 50 billion pounds of private sector investment in its ports over the next three years. Another 30 billion pounds in public and private investments would go to roads over a five year period, and 10 billion in further investments would go to Egypt's rail system, Mansour said.

"Infrastructure creates jobs and allows us to export our commodities less expensively," Mansour said.

Investment in transportation for the current fiscal year ending in June would reach 5 billion pounds, a six-fold increase from the previous year, he said.

Egypt would seek to work with private sector companies to upgrade its infrastructure. About a third of investments in roads over the next five years would come from state spending with two thirds from the private sector, he said.

"Investments in ports will all come from the private sector, from people who want to use our ports," he said.

Companies in China, the UAE and Denmark would invest in the ports, he said, without giving details.

Dubai port operator DP World said in October it had acquired a 90% stake in Egyptian Container Handling Company, located near the mouth of the Suez Canal, for $670 million.

Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moeller-Maersk unit APM Terminals said in September it signed an agreement with Egypt's government to double the capacity of its East Port Said terminal by 2011.

Petrodollar investment from the Gulf Arab region and economic liberalisation including tax cuts and privatisation of state-owned companies is helping Egypt's economy grow at its fastest rate in at least two decades. (Reuters)

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