Egypt is embarking on a substantial investment endeavor, with plans to double the dimensions of its opulent new capital situated 45 km (28 miles) east of Cairo. This ambitious project, known as the New Administrative Capital (NAC), is the largest among a series of mega-projects championed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, aimed at fostering economic development and addressing the needs of Egypt’s rapidly growing population, currently standing at 105 million.
Critics argue that these mega-projects contribute to an escalation of Egypt’s debt burden, with external borrowing employed for new capital construction, infrastructure development, armament acquisition, and currency maintenance. The nation now faces the challenging task of generating funds to meet international debt obligations.
Despite concerns, progress on the NAC continues, and in July, government employees were relocated to ministries and offices in the first phase of the new city, eight years after the project’s initiation. According to Khaled Abbas, Chairman of the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), the initial residents are gradually moving in, with nearly 48,000 employees commuting to the area daily.
Designed as a futuristic, high-tech model on virgin land, the NAC aims to offer a respite from the congestion and disorder of Cairo, providing a solution to accommodate Egypt’s growing population, estimated at 1.6% per year. The city’s first phase already boasts notable landmarks, including a 70-storey tower — the tallest in Africa, an opera house with five halls, a mega mosque, and the largest cathedral in the Middle East.
While the pace of construction has seen recent slowdowns, significant infrastructure progress has been made. An electric train from eastern Cairo commenced operations last spring, and an elevated monorail is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of this year, according to Abbas.
By the first quarter of 2024, major banks and other businesses are expected to move their headquarters to the NAC. ACUD, a joint venture owned 51% by the military and 49% by the housing ministry, has invested 500 billion Egyptian pounds in phase one infrastructure and buildings, highlighting the magnitude of the endeavor and the government’s commitment to transforming the landscape of Egypt’s administrative and economic hub.