CAIRO (AP) — The head of Egypt's Central Bank said on Monday that it has raised $8.5 billion for the construction of an expansion of the Suez Canal by selling investment certificates.
Hisham Ramez told Al-Hayat TV that the bank secured the funds in just eight days by selling non-tradable certificates with a maturity of five years at 12 percent interest to Egyptian nationals.
He said that by Monday the bank had collected 61 billion Egyptian pounds ($8.5 billion).
Egypt is the gatekeeper of the canal, one of the world's busiest water corridors and the strategic link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. It is one of Egypt's main sources of income, generating annual revenues of $5 billion.
On Aug. 5, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi inaugurated the digging of the new section of the canal in a military-led project aimed at expanding the key world trade corridor. He said it would be finished next year.
The government says the new canal section will shorten the waiting period from 11 to three hours and increase the number of ships that can navigate the canal simultaneously from an average of 23 to 97.