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Cablegate: Egypt's Economy: February 22 Press Round-Up

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD ENRG EG ATRN PGOV
SUBJECT: EGYPT'S ECONOMY: FEBRUARY 22 PRESS ROUND-UP

1. (U) The following are notable economic news stories that
appeared over the past two weeks in the Egyptian press:

Ministries Clash over Energy Needs of Cement Industry

2. (U) The Ministry of Petroleum announced that it is considering
importing cement to meet domestic demand, instead of supplying
natural gas to new cement factories. Unnamed sources in the
Ministry of Trade and Industry opposed the Ministry of Petroleum's
proposal, referring to it as "not logical" and asking the Ministry
of Petroleum to allow factories to import natural gas from abroad.
According to the news report, the Ministry of Trade and Industry
has issued 8 new licenses for cement factories, each of which will
have a production capacity of 1.5 million tons. The report projects
that Egyptian demand for cement will be high for the next five
years (Al Masry Al Youm, 2/14/2010 and 2/16/2010).

Traffic Accidents in Egypt on the Rise

3. (U) An investigation by a special parliamentary committee found
that railway and traffic accidents are increasing in Egypt.
According to the report, there were 22,400 traffic accidents in
2008, up from 19,200 in 2007. The report also noted that Cairo's
100 kilometer-long Ring Road is considered to be one of the most
dangerous roads in Egypt (Al Masry Al Youm, 2/9/2010).

Safety of Maritime Ferries Questioned

4. (U) In an interview with Al Masry Al Youm, Admiral Mokhtar
Ammar, the ex-Chairman of the Maritime Authority, confirmed reports
that maritime ferries used in the Red Sea are not safe. Al Masry Al
Youm had previously published internal documents from the Ministry
of Transportation indicating that ferries were unsafe. Ammar added
that there are four ferries currently operating in the Red Sea, but
their safety records are poor, which may lead to another maritime
crisis on the scale of the major ferry capsizing in 2006 (Al Masry
Al Youm, 2/19/2010).

Call for a Nuclear Advisory Committee of Expatriates

5. (U) Mohammed Abu El Anin, the Chairman of the Parliament's
Industry Committee, suggested that the GOE establish an advisory
council of distinguished Egyptian nuclear scientists living in
Europe and the United States. Minister of Electricity Dr. Hassan
Younis welcomed the suggestion, and recommended that the proposed
council focus on research and development rather than monitoring
and setting regulations. The Shura Council approved the latest
draft law for the regulation of nuclear activities last December
(Al Alam Al Youm, Feb 18).

Strong Growth in Cell Phone Market

6. (U) The number of cell phone users in Egypt grew by 39% in 2009
in Egypt, reaching 55.5 million, according to statistics released
by the Egyptian Ministry of Communication. Mobinil has 25.4 million
subscribers, accounting for 45.7% of the total market, Vodafone
Egypt has 23.3 million subscribers, constituting 42.1% of the
market, and Etisalat Egypt has 6.7 million subscribers, 12.2% of
total subscribers. Industry experts expect the market to continue
to grow for the next three years. (Al Mal, 2/18/2010).
SCOBEY

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