Saturday, 03 December 2022

In Governance

Africa's New York and Washington in the Desert

In March 2015, the Egyptian government announced the construction of a "New Administrative Capital", that marking the beginning of a new dawn of the historically great nation of Egypt. This is the first even in Africa, and it coming from the ancient dominators of economics of the ancient civilisation is a good example that greatness has always been at the core of being African.

The new capital city of Egypt is Africa's New York and Washington in the Desert. The new capital city is backed by investment and tourism orientation, fused with military and political inclinations. Just by its structural nature, it just attracts at least a first or second visit when completed.

According to The Media Line, it was announced in March 2021, that Egypt is racing to prepare a new capital city in the desert east of Cairo before the first civil servants move in this summer and ahead of the official opening of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s flagship project. “We were supposed to open the New Administrative Capital, but we had to delay its opening for an entire year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The birth of a new country with the opening of the New Administrative Capital [is] the proclamation of a ‘new republic,’” El-Sisi said on March 9.

This is a daring project that begun in 2015, and has moved as planned, with expected completion and occupation being 2022. 

Let us dial a notch back and look at the whole project. 

It is located 45 Km away from Cairo after the second regional ring road of Cairo between the regional roads of Cairo – Suez and Cairo Ain Shokna. It is also located 60 Km from Suez city. The city is designed to host 7 million inhabitants on a total area of 700 Km2, making it larger than Washington D.C. The city includes 100 districts and 21 housing residential areas. The project will also include Metro lines to connect the city with both Cairo and Suez. The city will have 250 km of road networks. 

The city is planned to consist of 21 residential districts and 25 "dedicated districts". Its downtown is to have skyscrapers, among which are the Oblisco Capitale, which is designed in the form of a Pharaonic obelisk and will stand at a height of 1,000 meters, becoming the tallest in the world; and the Iconic Tower, which is the tallest in Africa. 

The city will also have a central park, artificial lakes, about 2,000 educational institutions, a technology and innovation park, 663 hospitals and clinics, 1,250 mosques and churches, a 90,000-seat stadium, 40,000 hotel rooms, a major theme park four times the size of Disneyland, 90 square kilometres of solar energy farms, an electric railway link with Cairo and a new international airport at the site of the Egyptian Air Force's existing Wadi al Jandali Airport.

Main features for tourists will be the Mosques and Cathedrals, The Nativity of Christ Cathedral, Al-Fattah Al-Aleem Mosque, Skyscrapers as the Iconic Tower and the Oblisco Capitale, Capital Park, The Octagon, and the Capital International Airport. The Octagon (State's Strategic Leadership Centre) is Egypt's new Ministry of Défense headquarters, the complex is considered the largest of its kind in the Middle East and one of the largest in the world, much like The Pentagon in the United States of America. 

The Capital Park (also known as Green River) is an urban park set extend along the entirety of the new capital representing the Nile River, it is expected to be 35 kilometres (22 million) long, aiming to be double the size of New York's Central Park. The initial phase of the park will be of about the first 10 kilometres (6.2 million), which is currently under construction.

The project intends to host more than 600 facilities for health care and education services, and an international airport of about 15 km2 of surface area making it larger than Cairo airport and other airports in the region. A regional park that is 4 km2 wide is present for recreational purposes and 90 km2 will be dedicated for the solar farms of renewable energy. Most important, the new capital will include districts that will host the governmental institutions and the seats of different ministries as well as a district for the diplomatic representation of the different international embassies.

A financial and business centre is also planned with several administrative and office buildings for different firms and companies. Other areas of the city host universities, sports facilities and a football stadium as well as exhibitions and international hotel chains to host local and international business men. The estimated total cost for the construction of the New Capital reaches 46 billion USD. The project will provide 1.5 million job opportunities.

Those who adopt and encourage the project argue that having a new “Dubai like” capital will be a strong pole and magnet for foreign and domestic investments. Mostly because of the image that Dubai succeeded in creating over forty years, with a remarkable breakthrough in the last 10 years. They argue that having the tallest skyscraper in the world, the largest airport in the Middle East and the largest artificial islands in the world, created a global city brand for Dubai, hence attracting different types of activities, that ensured its emergence as one of the world’s economic capitals.

Several planners and urban developers, consider that a new capital should be developed to act as a new dynamic growth centre that stimulates development and attracts investments, activities and people, yet towards either an underpopulated region of the country or towards a region that suffers from regional inequalities and disparities. The idea of regional disparities is already considered a classical concept, in which a region is seen to be less attractive in terms of investments that would help in developing its economic activities or is suffering from poor indicators of social wellbeing such as education, health and other services.

Having a new capital distanced from the current capital is among the de-concentration spatial development strategies. Such strategies tend to deconcentrate the population and divert them away from the congested centres. Hence, establishing a new capital that would act as a growth pole in a region that is far from the capital is among these strategies.

We must start looking at Egypt's economy Post-Construction of the New Administrative Capital. 

In 2020, Egypt was the only country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with a positive GDP growth rate, being the only country to avoid economic recession over 2020–2021. On the other hand, all remaining countries in the region were projected to see negative growth in 2020, with a rebound to 2.2 percent growth in 2021.

In 2021, the Egyptian Government launched Vision 2030, and the two major projects were the New Administrative Capital, and the Local Military Production. 

Egypt’s Ministry of Military Production has developed an integrated plan to develop the country’s system of military manufacture, at a value of EGP 7.3bln (US$465,000,000). The overall plan aims to meet the needs of the Egyptian Armed Forces from 2020 to 2030, and to direct the surplus for export in the period from 2025 to 2030. The current allocated budget for the plan will be distributed among several sectors like ammunition, weapons, and equipment manufacturing. 

The economic boost of the Défense Industry will set Egypt apart from many African and Middle East economies, as it starts increasing its export receipts on weaponry. 

The New Administrative Capital has created much controversy with critics calling it "Illusion or New Beginning", giving analysis based on military criticism. When you stop to ask why nations move capital cities, it ultimately because of security reasons, as even ancient Rome became congested and its inability to move into better settings led to its collapse. In this age, building new cities is very important, and making State Security and Défense the core of those moves, creates a safe guard for locals that understand that you need to be secure before you think of building a future.

Tourism receipts will increase in the coming decade or more for Egypt because of building concepts that are Dubai and New York like. Africa now has a Central Park of New York, the Dubai skyscrapers, and most importantly an African alternative to The Pentagon called The Octagon. 

Using this new capital city, the Egyptian Government has been given an opportunity to cast a new hope for the Pharaohs, in all walks of life, and lead them by building new things, more cities, technologies, and enterprises. 

The New Administrative Capital of Egypt has more hope than despair in it, because it is not just a political hub, but a business, social, and most importantly a tourist destination, as is Dubai and New York. 

Sources: Faris Knight, GoE, Prof Yehya M. Serag

Cabanga Media Group publishes of thoughtful economic and business commentary magazines and online media, in several African markets, that include South Africa, Botswana, East Africa Community, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, and Zambia.