Belt and Road Initiative in Egypt
A light rail train heads for Egypt's new administrative capital to the east of Cairo, Egypt. [Photo/Xinhua]
A common accusation made against China’s BRI, and other investments, is that they are “debt traps” - that African countries are being forced into deals that end up hurting them. In reality, the opposite is true. China simply offers some of the best experience in the world at the lowest costs, with a track record of being generous with loan freezes or even cancellations.
As a global leader in clean energy, the Belt and Road Initiative is no different - building hydroelectric dams and solar plants across the world. In Egypt specifically, the BRI has contributed to Egypts Benban Solar Energy Park - the largest solar power plant in the world. In totality, the Park has 32 solar power plants - three of which China helped build. The entire plant has the goal of bringing Egypts renewable energy usage to 22%, creating thousands of jobs both during construction and in operation, and reducing greenhouse emissions of carbon dioxide by more than half a million tons annually. In comparison, the United States, the world’s leading polluter, uses only between 12-20% renewable energy.
Egypt is located just north of one of the best areas in the world for solar power generation. When we compare Egypt to the United States in regard to clean energy, we notice that almost the entire southwest US is in the “excellent” or “very good” category for solar. However, the massive car dependent infrastructure and huge pockets of oil companies leaves the country, in a sense, addicted to oil, and the renewable energy sector in the most imperialistic and wealthiest country in the world considerably lacking.
Solar Radiation Data for the State of Jalisco and Guadalajara Metropolitan Zone, Mexico - ResearchGate
Coming as no surprise to anyone, about 96% of Egypt is desert. Such vast areas of desert lead to countless problems when creating farms, which the Canal Sugar project ran into. The project is between Egypt and the UAE, with the intent of turning 50,000 hectares of desert into farmland for sugar beets. China comes into the equation because turning desert into farmland requires irrigation - and they looked to the Zhongman Petroleum and Natural Gas Group Corp (ZPEC) for support. China leads the world in turning vast desert landscapes into arable greenery and forest.