Russia Rosatom Breaks Ground for Egypt’s $30bn First Nuclear Power Plant

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Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation has finally broken ground on its $30billion nuclear power station in the desert on ’s Mediterranean coastline. Ground was broken at site five years after El Sisi and Putin signed agreement.

The National reported last night that Rosatom laid the concrete foundations for the Al Dabaa nuclear power plant, which is to be ’s first. The complex is a centrepiece in Cairo’s growing ties with Moscow, which entails multibillion-dollar arms purchases, Russian investment, frequent joint war games and the import of huge amounts of Russian wheat.

According to the report, the project signals Egyptian Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s readiness to maintain and expand ties with Russia, despite Western sanctions against Moscow led by the US.

It seems to fit with ’s ambitious programme to diversify its energy sources, investing heavily in and clean energy as it prepares to host the next conference on climate change, Cop27, in November.

News of ’s wish to have Russia build its first nuclear power station broke in 2015. Two years later, Mr. El Sisi and Russian Vladimir Putin formally signed an agreement on the construction of the four-reactor, 4,800-megawatt plant.

The project had remained largely dormant for seven years until late last month, when Rosatom said it had received permission from the Egyptian regulator to start building the first power unit out of the planned four, a 1,200-megawatt unit which will be operational in 2026.

Seeking to reassure local residents and the Mediterranean’s Coast holidaymakers, officials have spoken at length about the safety and security of the plant.

“It will have the highest standards of reactors’ safety,” said Ayman Hamza, the electricity ministry spokesman. “The plant will withstand earthquakes, storms, floods, snowfall and outside explosions. Its three shields will protect it against the crash of a heavy aircraft.”

The start of work on Wednesday was marked by a celebration attended by Egyptian electricity minister, Mohammed Shaker and Rosatom chief executive, Alexey Likhachev at the site, 300 kilometres -west of Cairo.

For years, all that could be seen of the site of the nuclear power plant was a three-metre-high wall stretching for more than 10 kilometres parallel to the coast — but no sign of activity.

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