Egypt's minister of environment Yasmin Fouad speaking at the opening session of Sustainable Transport in Egypt 2018 conference (Photo:Zeinab El-Gundy)
The Sustainable Transport Egypt 2018 conference kicked off in Cairo Wednesday, discussing the advent and future of electric vehicles in the country, especially in light of the experience of other countries in that domain, like Germany and Jordan.
Egypt's Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad stated that the environment ministry started to work on a sustainable transport project six years ago as part of efforts to reduce emission levels in the country.
She also revealed that the ministry would fully finish the project by the end of December, adding that sustainable transport is part of the sustainable developments goals that Egypt aims to achieve by 2030.
"Our goals in 2030 won't be achieved by us alone (as a ministry or government); we need partners from society and the private sector," she said.
Fouad added also that the ministry's target was not the advent of electric cars or vehicles in Egypt only, but to lay a foundation for this technology in the country, starting with laws in order to sustain this technology.
"We do not want to have a technology that would fade away after a couple of years. Sustainability means continuation without wasting natural sources," she said, adding that ministry aims to make a market for sustainable transport.
Fouad spoke about how several ministries are participating in the sustainable transport project, including the Ministry of Transportation.
New electric trains in eco-friendly administrative capital
The representative of the new administrative capital, Mohamedi Eid, participated in the opening session of the conference where he explained how the new city currently being built is an eco-friendly city.
"The new administrative capital covers 170,000 feddans, where highways alone cover 25,000 feddans. In addition, this is a green city," he said, adding that large green areas are included, to help counter the negative effects of emissions.
He also spoke of how the new administrative capital would use renewable energies, revealing that the environment ministry building was the first in the new city to depend totally on solar energy, adding that the 34 other ministries would follow suit when they are transferred to the city.
"There is a presidential directive that all buildings, schools and hospitals would use solar energy. The solar energy to be produced alone by the governmental district in the city will reach four megawatts, equal to half the energy produced by the Aswan High Dam," Eid said.
There will be also a sewage biomass plant and two electric trains in the city, Eid added.
"Within two years, we will have one of the two electric trains operating in the new administrative capital in cooperation with China," he said.
Egypt can be a hub for manufacturing e-vehicles in Africa and the Middle East
Dr Hossam Allam of the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) said during the opening session of the conference that it aimed to speak about the advent of electric vehicles in Egypt and not only cars.
Egypt is qualified to manufacture electric vehicles in the Middle East and Africa, he said, adding that the Suez Canal Zone is a candidate to become a hub for the manufacture of electric vehicles.
Allam added that there were other Arab countries that started to produce electric vehicles, like Morocco that started to manufacture electric vehicles six years ago.
Richard Probst, resident representative of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, spoke about how Egypt was starting to take its first steps towards electric transport, giving an example on how Alexandria received its first electric bus a couple of weeks ago.
Electric vehicles: Challenges and opportunities in Egypt
In the first session of the two-day conference, Ahmed El-Dorghamy of CEDARE spoke of the status of electric vehicles in Egypt and the challenges as well as opportunities the technology currently faces.
One of the main challenges is registration with the Ministry of Interior, along with customs and taxation, and parking problems, all of which can be resolved by looking at the past experience of other countries, he said.
According to El-Dorghamy, there are lots of opportunities for e-vehicles in Egypt, considering high urban density, and Egypt's potential for local production.
He spoke about how other countries and cities ban traditional cars and vehicles in certain areas, as in London and Berlin, as well around India’s historic Taj Mahal, where is a buffer zone that doesn't allow any vehicles except electric three-wheelers.
El-Dorghamy also spoke about how the current transportation sector contributed 1/3 of the air pollution Egypt is suffering from, and how diesel quality is low compared to other countries in the world.
The UN Environment Programme’s eMob project
Alexander Koerner, coordinator of the Air Quality and Mobility Unit for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya, spoke about the programme's global eMob project to foster electric mobility to reduce emissions from the transport sector.
Focusing on developing countries like Egypt, UNEP supports the development of policy packages and strategies to finance the transition towards electric mobility.
Koernor also spoke about climate change and how the Global Environment Fund (GEF) identified electric mobility as a key mitigation option.
Dr Ing John Anderson from the German Aerospace Centre and Frank Hinrichs from Inno2grid Germany spoke of the German experience in adopting electric mobility and how Egypt can benefit from that experience.
The Sustainable Transport Egypt 2018 conference is jointly organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung's office in Cairo, the Ministry of Environment and CEDARE.
This is the second event of its kind to discuss sustainable transportation in Egypt, following a conference held by CEDARE in 2016 to raise awareness about sustainable mobility.