President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will be the first Egyptian leader to be hosted by India as the chief guest for the Republic DayDefence and green energy have emerged as key areas of cooperation between India and Egypt ahead of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to the country as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.
Though the two countries have enjoyed close ties in past decades, especially as founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1961, the 68-year-old general-turned-politician will be the first Egyptian leader to be hosted by India for the Republic Day.
The visit has been preceded by growing contacts in different spheres though it is defence and green energy, especially green hydrogen, that have seen the greatest progress, people familiar with the matter said. Bilateral trade too has grown, touching $7 billion in 2021-22, a 60% increase over the figure for 2020-21.
India’s home-grown Tejas combat jet is in contention, along with South Korea’s FA-50 light attack jets, for Egypt’s plans to acquire 70 light combat aircraft to replace its ageing fleet. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has offered to set up a production line in Egypt and transfer technology for the Tejas, the people said.
HAL has also offered the Dhruv advanced light helicopter and its combat variant to Egypt, with an eye to using the country as a base for exports to other West Asian and African countries, they said.
During defence minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Egypt last September, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance bilateral defence cooperation. The two sides also agreed to enhance joint exercises and exchanges of personnel for training, especially in counter-insurgency. Singh and his Egyptian counterpart General Mohamed Zaki further agreed to identify specific proposals for expanding cooperation between the defence industries of the two sides.
The issue of joint manufacturing of defence hardware, including the transfer and localisation of technology, also figured in Singh’s meeting with the Egyptian president during the visit.
Significant progress has also been made in recent months in the realm of green energy, with the Egyptian government signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian company Ocior Energy on December 7 last year to establish a green hydrogen project in Egypt.
On November 15, the Egyptian government signed another framework agreement with India’s ReNew Power on the margins of COP27 in Sharm el-Shiekh to set up a green hydrogen plant in the Suez Canal Economic Zone with an investment of $8 billion. This facility is expected to have a targeted annual production of 220,000 tonnes of green hydrogen and derivatives.
Earlier, Egypt signed a MoU with India’s Acme Group in August 2022 to build a green fuel plant at Sokhna with a planned investment of $13 billion to produce 2.2 billion tonnes of green hydrogen annually.
The two sides have also been working to ramp up bilateral trade and investment to reach a target of $12 billion over the next five years. A growing number of Indian companies are eyeing opportunities in the Egyptian market, including renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, food production, logistics, engineering and transport. Indian businesses are also looking at Egypt as a gateway to European, West Asian and African market.
In April 2022, Egypt approved India as a certified wheat supplier and the first consignment of Indian wheat was shipped to the country the following month.
The people said all of these initiatives are expected to get a fillip during Sisi’s visit and during Egypt’s participation as a guest country in the G20 under India’s presidency.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will be the first Egyptian leader to be hosted by India as the chief guest for the Republic Day