A new city is rising in Egypt. But is it what the country needs?

A new city is rising in Egypt. But is it what the country needs? - Business and Finance - News

The Rise of the New Administrative Capital in Egypt: A Vision for Sustainable Economic Development and Smart Urban Living

In the heart of the Egyptian desert, approximately 30 miles east of Cairo, a new city is taking shape. This ambitious project, known as the New Administrative Capital (NAC), is one of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s grand megaprojects designed to stimulate the country’s economy. Already home to Africa’s tallest tower and the Middle East’s biggest cathedral, this city represents a significant investment in Egypt’s future.

The construction of NAC began in 2016 and is being executed in phases, with the first phase nearing completion and the second expected to commence towards the end of this year. According to Khaled Abbas, chairman of the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), the company overseeing the project, more than 1,500 families have already moved into the city, with an anticipated population of 10,000 by the end of 2024.

Government ministries are relocating to NAC, bringing around 48,000 employees with them, many of whom commute from eastern Cairo using an electric train that began operating last year. As parliament starts directing its meetings from the city and several banks and businesses move their headquarters there, more people are expected to settle in this burgeoning metropolis. Ultimately, Abbas envisions the entire country being managed from within the new capital.

The cost of developing NAC is estimated to be around 500 billion Egyptian pounds ($10.6 billion) in phase one, with a total projected price tag of $58 billion for the entire project. While this investment is substantial, ACUD maintains that it will not be affected by international financial institutions’ calls to curb infrastructure spending in order to reduce inflation and preserve debt sustainability.

NAC is designed as a smart, sustainable city, with modern infrastructure that aims to attract businesses. An artificial intelligence system will optimize the use of resources such as electricity, gas, water, and waste management. High-tech security services include thousands of surveillance cameras that track traffic, alert congestion, and accidents.

The city’s financial district will be the site of international banks and businesses’ global headquarters. In 2021, Afreximbank announced its intention to establish an African Trade Centre in NAC, featuring a conference center, hotel, innovation hub, and global headquarters. A consortium of companies from the United Arab Emirates and South Africa plans to form a financial hub in the city as well.

Abbas believes that NAC’s smart city design will attract businesses seeking sustainability and ease of operation. He hopes that Egypt’s innovative urban planning will serve as a model for African countries, contributing to the region’s economic development.

While some experts agree that NAC may attract businesses and foreign investment, they emphasize that the benefits will primarily accrue to a select group of people. Critics argue that NAC was built with the intention of keeping the government distant from large protests, given Cairo’s history of mass marches and urban unrest.

However, the most frequently cited reason behind the new capital’s construction is to accommodate Egypt’s growing population and relieve congestion and pollution in Cairo, which has one of the highest population densities in the world. NAC promises more green space, including a park twice the size of New York City’s Central Park.

Although Cairo is overcrowded and in need of improved infrastructure, some question whether building a new city is the best solution. Instead, investing in existing housing stock and improving access to decent livelihoods for residents could help alleviate overcrowding more effectively.

In summary, the New Administrative Capital in Egypt represents a significant investment in the country’s economic development and urban living standards. While critics raise concerns regarding cost, accessibility, and potential societal impact, proponents argue that its innovative design and strategic location will attract businesses and contribute to the wider region’s economic growth. Only time will tell whether this ambitious project lives up to its promise.