Investment certificates issued by Egyptian banks to fund the new branch of the Suez Canal will be sold out in 48 hours at the current rate of demand, Central Bank of Egypt governor Hisham Ramez told Al-Ahram's Arabic website on Sunday evening.
Egypt is seeking domestic funding to dig an extension of the nationally-prized Suez Canal, also a vital source of foreign currency.
Egyptians bought LE3 billion worth of certificates by noon on Monday, adding to the LE9.5 billion ($1.3 billion) sold on Sunday, said Ramez, bringing the official tally to over LE52 billion out of the LE60 billion needed to fund the project.
The 12 percent interest rate offered by the certificates, which are guaranteed by the CBE and Egypt's finance ministry, is higher than any offered on such instruments in the country.
Popular demand has been especially high for the certificates, which are sold at values of LE10, LE100, LE1000 with private individuals representing a whopping 80 percent of the total buyers, says Ramez.
Since the certificates were first issued earlier this month, long lines have formed outside banks across the country, with some branches remaining open late into the night to service eager investors, according to Hisham Okasha, CEO of the National Bank of Egypt, one of the principal issuing banks.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Egypt's postal service started selling certificates through 4,000 of its branches across the country to help banks meet the high demand,
A significant percentage of certificate buyers do not even own a bank account, adds Okasha.