Egypt has raised the $8.5 billion it needs to fund a project to expand the Suez Canal in just eight days, the central bank governor said.
Hisham Ramez said in a telephone interview with Reuters that EGP61 billion had been raised after banks issued investment certificates to finance the project, which is aimed at expanding trade along what is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
Fund-raising has closed and Egyptians will no longer be able to buy the investment certificates now that the initial goal of 60 billion pounds has been exceeded, the governor said.
The Suez Canal project includes the development of 76,000 sq km around the canal into an international industrial and logistics hub to attract more ships and generate income.
Officials have said the new development would boost annual revenues from the Suez Canal, which is operated by the state-owned Suez Canal Authority, to $13.5 billion by 2023 from $5 billion currently.
Canal revenues are a vital source of hard currency for the country, which has suffered a slump in tourism and foreign investment since the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.
The five-year investment certificates have a 12 percent interest rate and pay quarterly dividends and came in 10, 100 and 1,000 Egyptian pound ($1.40-$140) denominations.
National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, Banque Du Caire, and Suez Canal Bank issued the certificates.
The banks also issued certificates in US dollars with a 5.3 per cent interest rate and quarterly dividends, in $1,000 denominations.