Chinese companies help Egypt realize ‘electricity revolution’
Published: Sep 28, 2023 09:56 PM
Photo: State Grid

Photo: GT

A 500-kilovolt substation stands on a vast expanse of sand, and the giant steel building looks majestic against the blue sky. Inside the station, the large power transformer runs quietly, and technicians are seen monitoring the power grid carefully. Outside the station, trees and grass sway in the wind, providing a stark contrast to the sturdy power station.

This is the 500-kilovolt substation which is located in China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, in northern Egypt. Recently, a reporter from the Global Times visited the China-Egypt joint power project to learn how Chinese and Egyptian companies are working together to promote Egypt's "electric revolution."

An industrial zone full of innovation

China XD Group has been a pioneer in China's power transmission industry. Over the years, the group has actively pursued the "going out" strategy and integrated itself into the Belt and Road Initiative, facilitating many regions in the world to connect to the grid and achieve localized production of power products. In 2009, China XD and Egypt EGEMAC set up a joint venture in Egypt, XD-EGEMAC High Voltage Electric Equipment Co.

Shi Chen, the General Manager of XD-EGEMAC, told the Global Times that the joint venture has received total investment of $68.54 million, which the Chinese side holds 51 percent of share and the Egyptian side 49 percent. XD-EGEMAC mainly provides sub-station equipment and complete engineering services to the domestic market in Egypt and other countries in Africa and Middle East.

In the workshop of XD-EGEMAC in the China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the Global Times reporter saw that the production lines are operating smoothly with workers carefully working on the delicate electronic components. On another assembly line, giant copper coils are assembled into the core components of the transformer. Chinese and Egyptian engineers are seen strictly monitor every process to ensure that the transformer can achieve efficient energy transmission. Here, mechanical engineering, electric power technology and advanced manufacturing technologies are intertwined to create a productive and innovative industrial site.

The founding of XD-EGEMAC has helped Egypt to be the first country in Middle East and North Africa capable of manufacturing 500 kV ultra-high voltage power transformers and gas insulated metal-enclosed switchgear, significantly driving the rapid development of Egypt's electric power industry. Mohamed Shaker, Egypt's minister of electricity and renewable energy, said that Chinese companies have greatly contributed to Egypt's electric power revolution.

One of the most important projects in Egypt

Shi told the Global Times that since its establishment, XD-EGEMAC has 30 individual 66-500 kV substation projects completed or under construction. It has provided 66-500 kV power transformers, high-voltage switching equipment and other power transmission and transformation equipment for 58 substations.

At present, some remote areas in Egypt have not been connected to the power grid yet and XD-EGEMAC is helping the Egyptian government solve this problem.

On December 27, 2021, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly inspected an XD-EGEMAC constructed photovoltaic power generation project in Aswan Governorate and spoke highly of the progress of the project and its significance for the development of Egypt.

Al-Sisi said that the project is one of the most important infrastructure projects for new and renewable energy generation in Egypt.

Mossad Ibrahim, General Manager Assistant at XD-EGEMAC, said "Chinese companies are bringing more brightness to Egypt. We hope that our electrical products can illuminate more areas of Egypt's night sky and extend to the entire Middle East and North Africa region." He is a "China expert" who joined the company in 2009.

Adoption of Chinese standards

On April 8, 2021, Egypt's first domestically produced 220 kV 175 MVA transformer passed factory testing, and Ahmed, a team leader of the transformer assembly team, tightly embraced his Chinese teacher, Zeng Quan.

"I will never forget the day. I have witnessed the development process of my country's electric transformer technology," Ahmed told the Global Times. His biggest wish is to produce transformers of various models in Egypt with his own hands.

The Global Times learned that many key processes reply on human labor and the skilled Chinese technicians are providing hands-on training to Egyptian apprentices and sharing their technical knowledge on key process without any reservation.

On September 12, in the power transformer workshop of XD-EGEMAC, a 220 kV 175 MVA transformer was completed. Ahmed said this is the 17th transformer they had produced with the help of Chinese specialists. "Although it was hard work, all the efforts were worth it," Ahmed said.

According to Egyptian media reports, since 2020, XD-EGEMAC has produced 17 units of 220 kV/175 MVA transformers, with Chinese technology, quality and standards.

Media reports also noted that the Chinese technology, equipment, standards, and quality displayed by XD-EGEMAC have greatly enhanced Egypt's local production capacity for electrical equipment, which will play an important role in Egypt's clean energy development and economic growth.

As of the end of August 2023, XD-EGEMAC had a total of 270 employees, with six Chinese employees and the rest being local Egyptians, which means 264 job positions for the local community.

In addition, XD-EGEMAC has indirectly created job opportunities for thousands of local people, contributing to alleviating local employment pressure and ensuring the livelihoods of local residents.