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Egypt: Expanded Suez Canal to Open in August

Construction of the expansion, called the "new" canal was originally expected to take three years. But last year Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi announced the project would finish in a year. Picture taken June 13. 2015. (Heather Murdock/VOA)
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Egyptian officials are making plans to open a newly-expanded Suez Canal on August 6th. Officials say the “new” canal will be more than double the waterway’s earnings over the next 10 years. But some experts say the project alone will not be able to turn around Egypt’s economy.

Admiral Mohab Mohamed Hussien Mameesh heads the Suez Canal Authority.

He says the project will cut in half the amount of time it takes to travel through the Suez Canal. He says this time savings will lower costs for shippers.

The expansion of the current canal means two ships will be able to sail by each other. Now, there is only enough room for one ship to pass through the waterway.

The Suez Canal connects Europe and Asia. The canal earned $5.5 billion in income for Egypt last year.

Admiral Mameesh says less than 10 years from now, the expanded canal will earn $13 billion a year.

Professor Andrew Lambert teaches naval history at King’s College in London. He says the success of the canal will depend largely on the health of the world’s shipping industry. He says that is something Egypt cannot control. And he says even if the expanded canal is successful, he does not think it will improve the lives of average Egyptians. People in Egypt are facing rising poverty rates and prices. The economy is slowly recovering from recent financial and political unrest.

“Egypt is a large, complex country with a very big population. It is highly unlikely it is going to be able to live off the kinds of incomes it will get -- even from two canals. The costs of governing Egypt are very large. It has major debt problems.”

But officials say the economy is growing. And they say the canal is just one project that will both increase foreign investment in Egypt and create income for the country.

I’m Jim Tedder.

VOA’s Heather Murdock reported this story from Ismailia, Egypt. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

canal – n. a waterway that is designed so boats can pass through it

income – n. earnings; money that is earned from work, business or investments

complex – adj. of or having many parts that are difficult to understand; not simple.

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