No Egypt, the works have not stopped since 2015 in a desert area the size of Singapore, of more than 700 square kilometers, near the pyramids of Giza. In 2015, the country announced that a new capital would be created to replace Cairo there. With 22 million inhabitants, the city has lived with problems ranging from water supply failures, shortages in public transport, power outages and chaotic traffic.
By 2050, Cairo’s population is expected to double in size, putting even more pressure on the historic urban complex. At the same time, the new capital, as yet unnamed, is beginning to transform itself into an oasis of prosperity as the works progress: artificial rivers and all the electrical infrastructure have already been built, as well as houses, buildings and leisure centers.
After years of incessant work, a series of neighborhoods that will house an administrative center, a complex of embassies, government buildings and residential areas surrounded by plants and water canals are beginning to emerge. The new capital must be inaugurated by the end of the year.
The city, where 6.5 million people are expected to live, will have one of the biggest obelisks in the world, with more than 1,000 meters in height, in addition to 1,250 churches and mosques, 2,000 educational centers, 600 hospitals and clinics and a large green area. The urban complex must be supplied by solar energy and other renewable sources. It is also part of the plans to open a new international airport, connected by train to Cairo.
The project, however, is not without criticism. On the contrary. While many believe that Cairo has become an unviable city and some residents are already looking for alternatives close to the capital, experts in urbanism and economists raise an important discussion. One of the main points of debate is the price of housing and the cost of living in the new capital, which is expected to be higher than in Cairo. With that, only the most favored population would be able to pack their bags and move.
The expenses related to the work have also aroused heated arguments. The total cost should amount to at least 40 billion dollars, since the company that is leading the construction has among its main shareholders a military man and members of the government. The country’s president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, is a general who came to power through a coup d’état in 2013. The following year, elections were called, won by El-Sisi. In 2018, he was re-elected amidst allegations of fraud.
From an economic point of view, the construction of the new capital should generate jobs and contribute to the country’s growth. GDP grew 3.4% in 2020, largely due to structural reforms initiated in 2016 and an aggressive bailout package to alleviate the effects of the pandemic. This year, the expectation is for an expansion of 3% of GDP. The economic recovery in Europe, which accounts for 36% of Egypt’s exports, is eagerly awaited. Investments in infrastructure, where the main star is the new capital, have also generated important dividends.
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