As 2021 wound down, a new project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) began ramping up.

The Center of Excellence for Energy in Egypt, announced in November 2021, had its kick-off meeting on the campus of Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, on December 19, 2021. 

The five-year, $22 million project will work to improve the capacity of Egypt’s higher education institutions to drive public and private sector innovation, modernization and competitiveness; strengthen government policy to stimulate economic growth, and contribute solutions to the country’s development challenges in the energy sector.

The center will meet these objectives in close collaboration with Arizona State University and three Egyptian universities: Ain Shams University, Aswan University and Mansoura University

Gathering in the Dr. All’a Fayez Meeting Hall, all critical stakeholders sent representatives to help set the center’s forward momentum. 

The distinguished panel included Ain Shams University President Mahmoud El Meteini, Aswan University President Ayman Othman and Mansoura University President Ashraf Bakr. 

The Egyptian government was also represented by Ayman Ashour, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education for University Affairs.

Many individuals from USAID were also at the table, along with Sayfe Kiaei, the center’s director and professor from Arizona State University. 

“To see top government officials as well the university presidents, vice presidents, and faculty of engineering deans from the three Egyptian universities at the table is indicative of how important this center is,” says Sayfe Kiaei. 

The content-packed meeting had clear goals and laid out key components and milestones.

The elite group managed to define the degree programs that will be the foundation of the project and will drive the curriculum of the three Egyptian universities.

“Although there are still details to work out, the center is well ahead of where we thought we would be,” Says Kiaei.

Kiaei, who spent five years working on the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy with USAID, credits this experience with the quick movement of the Center of Excellence for Energy. 

“I’m bringing in five years of experience in setting up and running a center of this type,” he says. “Because of that, we are not starting from scratch.”

Kiaei traveled to Egypt for the meeting as the center’s director and to show Arizona State University’s commitment to the project. 

Walid El-Khattam, Project Technical Advisor, foresees a fruitful collaboration between ASU and the Egyptian partner universities and is pleased with how the kick-off meeting went.

As curriculum and research were discussed for the center, the opportunities for collaborations beyond the center’s scope emerged. Ain Shams University, Aswan University, Mansoura University and Arizona State University are well-positioned to have a long partnership. 

“It was critical this meeting took place in person,” Kiaei says. “There were components and connections made that could not have happened had the meeting been remote.

The center’s projected path is clear to all of the partners. By the end of the five years, the center will boast over 500 graduates, more than 45 new research projects involving 200 faculty and students from Egypt and ASU, collaboration with over 15 ASU labs, knowledge exchanges with ASU and Egyptian scholars and new academic programs that will broaden the world’s knowledge of electrical engineering. 

As news of the kick-off meeting began to circulate, a buzz started in the energy industry in Egypt.

“This is not just an academic story. The center will have a direct impact on the Egyptian energy and renewable energy industry,” says Kafafi. “Building a stronger energy future for everyone.”

In February the stakeholders will gather again to keep the center’s ambitious agenda moving forward.