Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, expects an inter-governmental agreement on the key commercial terms of a project to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant will be ready to sign this autumn.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced plans for the project earlier this year, during Russian President Vladimir Putin's state visit to Egypt. Within the framework of that visit, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy agreed to launch detailed discussions on the prospective project. In addition, Rusatom Overseas and the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plants Authority signed a project development agreement for a nuclear power plant with a desalination facility.
In an interview with Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, on the eve of his own visit to the country this week, Medvedev said: "Nuclear power engineering is a strategic area of Russian-Egyptian cooperation. I'm not overstating it. Russia is willing to help Egypt become a regional leader in the nuclear industry." A transcript of the interview was published today on Medvedev's official website.
"Specific agreements were reached during President Putin's visit to [Egypt] on 10 February, when an agreement on developing a project to build an NPP in Egypt was signed. Technical specifications and the number of nuclear power units, as well as the key commercial terms, have been agreed upon. They will be included in a new intergovernmental agreement, which is almost ready for signing," he said.
Medvedev stressed that Russia is offering Egypt its most advanced power units, equipped with safety systems developed following the Fukushima-1 accident in Japan. He noted that they are of the same design as those Russia is building in China, India, Iran and other countries. The new document is expected to be signed "during the next bilateral meeting at the highest level," he said.
The supervisory authorities of both countries are working on drafting a memorandum of cooperation in nuclear energy infrastructure and their respective finance ministers are conducting "intensive consultations" on another intergovernmental agreement, concerning a Russian government loan to Egypt, he added.
Russian and Egyptian companies are "already busy preparing a package of contracts" for the project, which will create thousands of jobs and numerous orders for Egyptian industry, including the construction sector, he said. "They are expected to be signed this autumn."
Russia will also provide "broad opportunities" for academic and hands-on training of Egyptian specialists at Russian nuclear facilities. "We will help [Egypt] to train personnel for a future nuclear power program. About 50 Egyptian students will start training at Russian universities in various professions this year already," he said.
Medvedev said he was confident that Russian-Arab relations "will not only maintain their momentum in the future, but will expand into promising new areas". The prime minister was referring to cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, space research and advanced technology. "We have much to offer our Arab friends in all these areas," he said.