Egypt: China has recently announced that it will contribute a sum of US$64 million for the launch of Egyptian Earth observation satellite program, EgyptSat, as part of a new cooperation agreement signed between the two counties.
Further, China and Egypt have signed an agreement that will see Beijing provide a US$23 million grant for an Egyptian satellite test, integration, and assembly facility. This facility is in line with the Egyptian policy intent to be self-sufficient and strategically autonomous in the manufacture of satellites and satellite components.
Both agreements were prepared on the Egyptian side by Egypt’s National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS).
EgyptSat-A is being built as a replacement for EgyptSat-2 that failed in orbit in April 2015 less than a year after its launch. EgyptSat-A is being built using the funds recouped from the insurance claim against the EgyptSat-2 loss, said to be US$100 million.
Egyptian press reports about the proposed Chinese funding contribution to EgyptSat do not make clear whether the contribution is for the EgyptSat-A program, or for another EgyptSat satellite as yet unannounced.
China and Egypt have been busy building close ties with each other over the past several years as part of Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative in order to secure China’s maritime access to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. From Cairo’s perspective, China is an economic lifeline in light of Egypt’s economic troubles since the political turmoil that occurred since 2011.