Sun, 26 Dec 2021 - 06:00 GMT
Sun, 26 Dec 2021 - 06:00 GMT
CAIRO – 26 December 2021: The Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS), a well-known think tank, issued earlier this week a report outlining the progress achieved in terms of raising the share of Upper Egypt in development programs and initiatives.
Figures on Upper Egypt
The report begins by pointing out that Upper Egypt houses eight out of the 27 governorates, and geographically composes 16.1 percent of the country's surface area as it spans over 101,100 square kilometers. The number of its inhabitants amounts to 29.3 million, whereas 7.1 million live in urban areas, while 17.6 million dwell rural villages.
Upper Egyptian governorates, from the North to the South, are Fayoum, Beni Suef, Menya, Asyut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, and Aswan. Those are rich in fertile agricultural land, mines, and archeological sites.
Before the year marking the assumption of office by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Fayoun, for instance, was the highest in hepatitis C infections. Further, the poverty rate among Upper Egyptians was 57 percent, and the share per individual in various services was very low.
Upper Egypt had also become home to 115 slums, unlicensed buildings stretching over 230,000 fedanns, and high rates of unemployment incurring a surge in rural-urban migration.
Public Investments in Upper Egypt
Sixty-nine percent of public investments spent, were directed at Upper Egypt, which received LE754 billion ($47 billion) out of LE1.1 trillion ($68.75 billion). Moreover, LE156 billion ($9.75 billion) are being injected into ongoing projects. That is in addition to the budget – worth LE180 billion ($11.25 billion) - allocated to the first phase of Decent Life initiative, implemented in 4,500 villages, located majorly in Upper Egypt.
Infrastructure projects worth LE535 billion ($33.4 billion) were executed by the private sector through five ministries. The breakdown is 2,800 private firms through the Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Areas; 3,420 through the Ministry of Local Development (in charge of municipalities); 830 through the Ministry of Electricity; 125 through the Ministry of Transport; and 1,500 through the Ministry of Education and Technical Education. That is in addition to 550 private companies that took part in carrying out mega national projects supervised by the Egyptian Armed Forces Engineering Authority.
The breakdown of those projects – which created job opportunities for many Upper Egyptian youths – is as follows by sector. As roads have been a distinct feature of the rule of President Sisi, 2,600 kilometers of new roads were introduced, while 4,000 kilometers of existing roads were upgraded and expanded to consist of four lanes in each direction.
That is in addition to 365 bridges and tunnels. Those include 14 bridges connecting the eastern and western banks of the Nile River. Their total cost is LE23.5 billion ($1.5 billion), and they are far from each other by a minimum of 25 kilometers. Further, LE32 billion ($2 billion) were spent on renovating railroads, and 46 train stations. Also, seaports and urban ports were rehabilitated.
As housing has equally been a landmark of the incumbent Egyptian president's rule, 188,000 residential units – across 14 new fourth-generation cities - are being built at LE41.5 billion ($2.6 billion), including the costs of utilities introduced. The breakdown is: 125,000 are part of social housing projects; 45,000 are alternative housing units; 7,400 are targeted at middle-income citizens; and, 11,000 are Bedouin and Nubian houses.
With regard to utilities, 121 drinking water projects – producing 1.8 million cubic meters daily - are being executed at LE45 billion ($2.1) to attain a 97.8-percent coverage in Upper Egypt. Similarly, 224 wastewater projects – with a capacity of 1.29 million cubic meters daily – are underway at LE15.6 billion ($1 billion) to achieve a 33-percent coverage among Upper Egyptian governorates. Yet, the percentage will become 100 percent when Decent Live initiative concludes in 2024.
Regarding energy, Upper Egypt receives 12,400 megawatts of electricity. That part of the country has also become on the map of renewable energy generation when Benban Solar Park began operation in 2019. The park is home to private sector investments worth LE2 billion ($125 million).
As for the oil and gas sector, natural gas has been introduced in 1.1 million residential units. To ensure self-sufficiency, the Gasoline Production Complex was established in Asyut, where oil terminals were also introduced. Further, butane gas storage warehouses were built in Sohag.
Speaking of digitalization, fiber optics are being extended in Upper Egypt for the first time within Decent Life initiative. That is in addition to digitalizing the services of 89 courts and Public Prosecution offices; 40 Registry offices; 97 post offices; and, 175 police departments and law enforcement facilities. That is in addition to 234 projects pertinent to linking courts with prisons.
Regarding elementary education, 34,000 classrooms, 2,320 regular schools, and 219 technical education schools were built. That is in addition to high-performing student schools, and Japanese schools in New Menya, and New Asyut. Further, the illiteracy of 1.5 million citizens was eliminated.
As for tertiary education, Asyut Technology University and New Tiba Technology University were established. That is in addition to introducing five private universities in Beni Suef; Asyut, Menya, and New Valley. Moreover, 105 new schools and institutes were added to existing universities. Some of those are specialized in modern technology, such as the Arab world's first space school at Beni Suef University.
With regard to healthcare, public and university hospitals were rehabilitated at LE42 billion ($2.6 billion). Moreover, a plasma donation center was introduced in Menya as the construction of two others is underway in Sohag and Red Sea. In addition, 1,457 medical caravans were operated offering services to 1.9 million citizens. The Universal Health Insurance System has also been introduced in Luxor and Aswan developing 169 healthcare units at 22 billion ($1.4 billion), subscribing 22 million citizens, and carrying out 500,000 medical check-ups.
The agricultural sector received public investments worth LE17 billion ($1 billion) as 550,000 feddans (one feddan equals 4,500 kilometers) were reclaimed in East Owaynat, Toshky, New Valley, Fayoum, and Menya, and modern irrigation was introduced in 300,000 feddans. The figure will be raised to 504,000 feddans to reduce the amount of water used by 20-25 percent, and raise production by 10-20 percent.
To achieve the same goal, LE6.6 ($412 million) billion were spent on cleaning and lining canals; LE402 million ($25 million) on rainwater harvesting; LE6 billion ($375 million) on the introduction of New Asyut Barrage; and, LE13.8 ($862.5 million) on completing Toshki canal.
As part of establishing the world's dates farm in the world, 1.7 million palm trees were cultivated on 40,000 feddans in Toshky with the aim of making the total number 2.5 million.
With regard to agricultural services, 530,000 smart cards were distributed among farmers in Upper Egypt. Also, 114,000 subsidized calves worth LE1.8 billion ($112 million) were granted to applicants to boost the number of cattle. That is in addition to operating 1,700 caravans to offer veterinary services to 1.4 cows and buffalos. LE50 million ($3 million) were invested in the establishment of 25 milk collection centers.
In relation to food security, 27 silos were built to store wheat and grains at LE1.3 billion ($81 million); three logistics zones were introduced at LE4.7 billion ($294.75 million) in Fayoum, Qena, and Luxor; and 2,491 in-kind subsidies outlets were inaugurated. To reduce costs, natural gas was introduced in bakeries at LE4 billion ($250 million).
Regarding the manufacturing sector, 11 industrial cities – spanning over a total of 9,300 feddans ) - were built at LE72.5 billion ($4.5 billion). Those are expected to secure 127,000 jobs. Further, the construction of 10 industrial complexes – aimed at creating 26,000 jobs - is underway at LE8.4 billion ($525 million).
Equally, 914,000 SMEs received funding worth LE26 billion ($1.6 billion), while public enterprise factories were rehabilitated at LE17.4 billion ($1 billion), such as Egyptian Chemical Industries (KIMA), Qena Textiles Factory, and Fayoum Cotton Gin.
In a different context, as most Egyptian archeological sites lie in Upper Egypt, museums were renovated, underground water was reduced, and the Sphinx Valley was revived.