People talk as they stand looking over the Suez Canal in Ismailia city November 13, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
A bill to regulate investment in the new Suez Canal Area Development Project will be ready by February, according to the consultant advising the Egyptian government on the project.
Egypt plans to create a logistical hub in the three cities which overlook the Suez Canal and Sinai peninsula. It includes the development of six ports and the creation of several industrial and service hubs.
"We may amend the existing Suez Canal law or elaborate a new one. We are working with government bodies including the ministries of investment and transitional justice," Yehya Zaki, general managing director of Dar Al-Handasah Egypt, told reporters on Wednesday.
In August, Dar Al-Handasah was awarded a contract worth $1.8 million to develop a strategic plan for the new project.
"We started work on 9 September; our deadline is within 6 months from the start point. The bill should be finalised before the end of the whole study," he added.
Egypt is banking on mega-projects jump-start an economy battered by almost four years of political upheaval. The government forecast GDP growth of 3.8 percent in the current fiscal year, in-line with IMF expectations.
Zaki expects the project to create one million jobs within fifteen years.
"If we do business as usual, the number of jobs created will be around 400,000," he added.
By the end of the study deadline, Dar Al-Handasah should present a detailed plan of economic activities suitable for the area.
The consulting firm says transportation and energy sources are the main challenges for the area.
"We should take into consideration the development of roads, not only within the area but also those linking the Suez Canal area to Cairo."
The government is already considering the construction of a direct road linking Port Said to Cairo.
In August, the government started an expansion of the Suez Canal through a new 35km waterway that will be completed by the military through "dry digging." This is in addition to a 37km expansion and deepening of the existing waterway to support large ships.