Natural resources, energy and environment
The Nile and its waters are Egypt’s foremost natural resource. The country also has significant assets of oil and natural gas. However, oil production is declining and instead gas exports are growing rapidly. Gas burning accounts for the majority of electricity generation.
Half of the oil is in the Suez Bay, but assets are also in the Sinai, the Nile Delta and the deserts. The gas finds, which were mainly discovered in the 1990s, are mainly found in the Nile Delta and off the Mediterranean coast. New discoveries have made Egypt the second largest natural gas producer in Africa after Algeria.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Egypt with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
An Italian energy company found one of the world’s largest natural gas fields, Zohr, in the Mediterranean off Port Said in 2015 and the exploitation started in 2018. With Zohr and extraction initiated from three additional discoveries during the year, Egypt managed to become self-sufficient in natural gas. This enabled the country to end its import of liquefied natural gas, which had cost the equivalent of SEK 2 billion a month the year before.
However, by New Year 2019/2020, a new collaboration was established with Israel, which opened for Egyptian gas imports from a larger Israeli field in the Mediterranean. An underwater pipeline connects the northern Sinai Peninsula with Ashkelon in Israel. A few years earlier, Egypt exported gas to Israel via onshore pipelines, but the lines were repeatedly attacked by armed groups in Sinai.
Important mineral resources are phosphate, iron ore and gold. Several gold deposits have been made in recent years and the recovery is increasing at a rapid rate. Iron ore has previously been mainly mined in the area around Assuan, but new reserves have also been found at an oasis in the Libyan desert (in the west). In Sinai there are large coal deposits.
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Gas-fired power plants account for around three quarters of the electricity. Oil burning and hydropower from the Assuan Dam also contribute. A target is for 20 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources in 2020, and investments have been made at several large wind farms. The country’s first solar power plant, partly funded by the World Bank, is located south of Cairo and inaugurated at the end of 2010.
Plans are underway to exploit more of the country’s great solar power potential, with almost constant sunshine in the vast desert areas. The construction of a nuclear power plant in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast was halted after the accident in Chernobyl in 1986, but construction will be resumed in cooperation with Russia. In connection with a state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017, an agreement was signed to jointly build the Daba plant.
The current electricity generation is not enough to meet the needs. Extremely high temperatures during the summer often contribute to recurrent power cuts.
Nile water is heavily exploited by several countries and water scarcity is a serious threat (see Foreign Policy and Defense). Egypt, whose more than 100 million residents live mostly along the river, is troubled by the preparations to curb the upstream river, on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, which contributes a large part of the river’s water. The high dam, Egypt’s own dam, not only provides electricity but has also caused salting. The pollution along the river is great. The environmental organization Very Nile has been started to collect garbage along the beaches, not least plastic bottle drives that tourism leaves behind.
The air in big cities is also heavily polluted. Uncontrolled garbage handling is another major problem. But progress has been reported in one area: In June 2019, Hurghada and other resorts on the Red Sea banned the use of plastic disposable items. Six months later, when the beaches were cleaned, it was found that the problems with plastic being washed out of the sea had decreased significantly.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
835 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
1699 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
201 894 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
2.2 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
5.7 percent (2015)
Death sentences after new mass trial
188 followers of the Muslim Brotherhood are sentenced to death for the attack on the Kerdasa police station (see September 2013). Most of the convicted are detained while some are convicted in their absence.
Terrorist acts cause the military’s greatest loss in decades
More than 30 conscripted soldiers are killed in two concerted assaults at roadblocks in al-Arish, North Sinai Province. The president announces state of emergency in parts of the area and the Rafah border crossing to the Gaza Strip is closed.
Hunger strike against anti-protest laws
Some 60 people in prison, including 10 journalists, hunger strikes in growing protests also targeted arbitrary arrests, torture, constantly postponed trials and long detention times. Some 70 people outside the prisons are also reported to be participating in the hunger strike.
FJP dissolved by court
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political branch is also ordered to surrender its assets to the state.
Concern at the border in the west
At least 20 soldiers and three rebels are killed in connection with an attack on an army post in western Egypt, near the border with Libya.
Imprisonment for al-Jazira journalists
Three journalists, including two foreign nationals, are sentenced to seven years in prison for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Among a number of people in the same case are several who are convicted in their absence, including three more foreign journalists. Australia, the Netherlands and the UK in front of official protests against the judges.
Grand victory for Sisi
When the official result is announced on June 3, Sisi has received 97 percent of the vote and Sabbahi only 3 percent. The turnout is 47 percent. He will take over as president on June 8.
Extended presidential election
So few go to the polling stations on May 26-27 that the government first announces day two for national holidays and extends the opening hours of the polling stations, and then extends the election by a third day. The government is obviously concerned that the low turnout erodes Sisi’s legitimacy. Many boycott the election in protest, while others think the result is already given and therefore do not care to vote.
The April 6 movement is prohibited
A court banned the youth movement, which had a central role in the revolt against Mubarak. The ban comes after complaints that the group “damages the image of the country” and cooperates with foreign parties.
Left candidate in the presidential election
Hamdin Sabbahi formally signs up as presidential candidate on the last day of registration. Thus, it is clear that the choice is between Sabbahi and Sisi.
Sisi is running for president
The Field Marshal announces that he is retiring as Army Chief and Minister of Defense in order to run for president. The message has been waiting for a long time. His successor is appointed Sedki Sobhi.
Criticism of mass trials
Since further mass trials against hundreds of people have been announced, the United Nations, the United States, the EU and many others around the world are facing harsh criticism of Egypt.
Death sentence after mass trial
A two-day trial in Minya south of Cairo ends with 529 Mursian supporters sentenced to death for, among other things, the murder of a police officer in connection with the demolition of the Cairo protest camps in August 2013. The majority are sentenced in their absence, but 153 of those convicted are detained . The speedy trial without individual trial provokes great consternation both in the country and abroad.
New government takes office
Former Housing Minister Ibrahim Mahlab will become new prime minister from March 1. Of 31 ministers, 11 are new.
The government is leaving
Acting Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi gives the unexpected message in a televised press conference on February 24. He says nothing about the reason for the departure.
Terrorist acts against tourists in Sinai
Four people, including three South Koreans, die in an explosion against a tourist bus at the border with Israel. 14 South Koreans are injured. The Islamist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis takes on the deed, which is the first in nearly a decade against tourists in Egypt.
Sisi becomes a field marshal
The Minister of Defense is given the highest title one can have in the military while the military gives him the go-ahead to stand in the presidential election.
Extensive state violence against citizens
Amnesty International reports in a report that state violence against citizens since Mursi was deposed has been more extensive than ever before. According to the human rights organization, 1,400 people have been killed in just over six months.
Referendum on constitutional proposals
A committee of 50 members has drafted the constitutional proposal, which voters will have to decide on January 14-15. The proposal means, among other things, that the military retains far-reaching powers (see also Political system). Many regime opponents boycott the vote. According to the authorities, 98 percent voted in favor of the proposal. The turnout is just under 39 percent.