May 10, 2018 / 1:18 PM / 12 days ago

Egypt signs MOU with China's GCL for $2 billion solar panel factory

CAIRO (Reuters) - China’s GCL Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Egypt’s ministry of military production to build a solar panel facility at a cost of up to $2 billion, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Thursday.

Under the MOU, which was signed on Wednesday, the facility will manufacture panels capable of producing 5 gigawatts (GW) annually, it said, without mentioning the location or timeframe of the project.

Egypt in 2014 announced extensive plans to develop renewable energy targeting 4.3 GW of wind and solar projects to be installed over three years, but many investors pulled out following contract disputes.

Egypt aims to meet 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2022.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former general who took office in 2014, has promised to revive the economy, which has struggled since a 2011 uprising scared away investors and tourists, Egypt’s main sources of foreign currency.

He has called in the military to assist in major infrastructure projects and with distribution of subsidized commodities to help curb price rises.

The economic weight of the military, which produces everything from bottled water to macaroni, has long been a topic of speculation in Egypt but official comment on its economic activities is rare.

Sisi said in March that the military’s economic activities were equivalent to 2-3 percent of GDP, well below the more than 50 percent that some have claimed.

Reporting by Amina Ismail

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