Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education, Khaled Abdel Ghafar, on Sunday, inspected the site of the country’s satellite assembly, integration and test (AIT) centre alongside the Chinese Ambassador to Egypt, Liao Liqiang, reports the Egyptian Independent.

The AIT centre, located at the Egyptian Space City near the New Administrative Capital, is funded by a joint agreement between the governments of Cairo and Beijing within the framework of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

The inspection is one of the several bilateral engagements planned on the sidelines of the recently concluded 6th Edition of the China-Egypt Trade Fair held from Saturday, 28 to Monday, 30 September, at the Cairo International Convention Center.

Discussions by the Ambassador and top Egyptian government officials highlighted strategic relations between both countries in space technology, remote sensing field and other industrial sectors.

Egypt and China continue to deepen bilateral relations in key sectors of the Egyptian economy as part of a plan to increase the country’s competitiveness in regional trades in Africa and the Middle East.

The Egyptian and Chinese governments had earlier in January signed an agreement to establish the AIT centre in the northern African country and support its other space projects such as the development of the China-funded MisrSat II Earth Observation satellite, and an associated ground control station and application systems.

While briefing the media at the kickoff ceremony for the MisrSat II and AIT projects last month, the Chinese Ambassador had expressed China’s commitment to Egypt’s space project.

“China will help Egypt build a complete satellite assembly integration and test centre, in which scientists and engineers from China and Egypt will jointly complete the assembly, integration and test of Egypt’s MisrSat II.”

Beijing and Cairo signed a USD 72 million grant for Egypt’s space programme on 21 January 2019, the third grant provided by China to Egypt for a satellite project. Both countries initially signed a grant of USD 23 million in 2016, and a second grant worth USD 45 million provided in 2018.

Egypt plans to leverage the AIT centre and its growing space capacity to actualise the objectives of the African Space Agency as well as that of the recently inaugurated Arab Space Working Group.