By Toyin Akinosho
Owners of intercity and intracity buses in Egypt will be able to swap their gasoline powered minibuses for natural gas powered ones, in the first phase of the government’s natural gas vehicle swap scheme starting July, 2021.
A key requirement for this phase is that the vehicles must be older than 20 years old. The scheme will initially be rolled out in Cairo, Giza, Qalyubia, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, and the Red Sea.
The vehicle swap programme entails private transport companies getting brand new natural gas-powered vehicles for their old mini buses.
The government has also announced that 2,300 Public Buses (owned by governorates and municipalitities) in Cairo and Alexandria will be converted to run on natural gas at a total cost of $77Million (or EGP 1.2Billion), under a joint agreement signed between the ministries of petroleum, local development and military production as well as the public transport authorities of both cities.
Egypt’s plan to displace gasoline and diesel with natural gas, as the country’s default fuel of transportation, had initially scheduled 15,000 minibuses (Egypt’s equivalent of Kenya’s Matatus and Nigeria’s Danfos).
But outside the pulic transport system, the government has now scaled up the planed number of cars to be converted to run on natural gas by 2023, from 250,000 to 450,000 cars.
Egypt’s finance ministry is backing the effort of Taqa Arabia, the country’s largest private sector energy distribution company, in the natural gas conversion scheme. The company, last week, announced the receipt of a $58Million loan from the National Bank of Egypt to help finance the construction of natural gas filling stations. Master Gas, a subsidiary of Taqa Arabia, will use the finance to build 40 new filling stations in a number of governorates, to support the growing shift to natural gas vehicles. Taqa Arabia has indicated it would invest $231Million (or EGP 3.6Billion) in expanding its number of natural gas stations to 180 by 2023. The company says it will spend $51 (EGP 800Million) to construct 40 stations in 2021, $77Million (or EGP 1.2Billion) on 60 stations in 2022 and $102Million (or EGP 1.6Billion) on 80 stations in 2023. Taqa currently operates 23 natural gas stations.