The second of four installments of Akhbar Al Youm’s Yasser Rizk’s interview with now President Abdul Fattah El Sisi, exclusively translated with permission by Egypt Today.
Now for your platform. You talked about some of it in TV programs but you have not discussed it not in detail. What are the priorities of the projects in the platform?
Infrastructure. The goal is to expand Egypt’s urban map, which comprises 7% of the total land area. We shall grow this map to a great degree within two years. For example, we will plot between 4000-5000 km of roads to build, making movement between areas in the country more easily accessible. Also, we’ll be adding 10,000 mw by building three large power stations in the south of Fayoum Hills, Sharq Oweinat and Aswan. Studies have shown that all of Egypt’s land allows for work with 9 hours worth of solar energy every day.
LE 3-4 billion will be allocated to each governorate in the first year for developing its infrastructure and putting Egypt on the investment map. We will also focus on Upper Egypt, Sinai, Matruh, Halayeb and Shalatin.
When it comes to irrigation water, we have alternatives, among which are conserving water usage by developing the irrigation systems for planted areas. This can save up to 10 billion square meters of water which can be used for reclamation.
When it comes to agriculture, there is a project to build agricultural factories — in other words, a multi-level greenhouse built over three floors above each and every feddan. A feddan set up in this way uses only 10% of the water used by a regular feddan with a normal irrigation system. It produces eight times what a traditionally farmed feddan produces. It will also increase employment opportunities 8 to12-fold. And it can be planted with vegetables and fruits as well as medicinal plants. We can then keep planting traditional lands with rice, corn and wheat.
There are also many ideas to limit spending, such as not using 20% of all cars just one day a week. This would reduce fuel usage by 20% annually.
There’s also a megaproject to upgrade our cargo fleet to prevent wasting 20-25% of products due to improper packaging and stacking. Another megaproject involves raising livestock to provide meat and dairy products at cheap prices; a third would provide foodstuffs at consumer outlets to combat high prices and greed.
The national megaprojects include Mamar el-Tanmeya (Development Corridor), the Suez Canal Axis and the development of Sinai. Plus linking the west and east Nile and also linking Upper Egypt with the Red Sea.
The Development Corridor involves constructing a road 1200km in length. A road like this takes up to 10 years to complete; how long do you think it will take with me? It won’t take more than 18 months.
Where will the money for these projects come from?
As I’ve said before, self-financing and the assistance of our brothers as well as Arab and foreign investments.
And when it comes to businessmen in Egypt, they will open an account that they will monitor to finance these projects. This is a national and security necessity. In short, everyone will contribute.
You’ve also talked about corruption and that you have no place for it …
Corruption is my true enemy. Even ethical corruption. I have no place for corruption … this is part of my character.
There are some who claim your stance on democracy is that it is not a priority. How do you see the issues of freedom and democracy?
Democracy, freedom and social rights are gains achieved through both revolutions, and no one can strip them away from the people. The people have dictated democracy. No one who respects his people and loves his country can think of meddling with democracy. We are living the experiment of democracy, and it is in our best interest that there be a true democratic environment. The current environment has to get better so that we can see true democracy being practiced. It’s the natural development so we can see our experience mature like developed countries and established democracies.
I say that democracy in Egypt is not under threat. And the level of awareness of the everyday Egyptian has grown considerably. Everyone is talking politics, and this is an indication of an awareness of the importance of political participation.
You have announced that you aim to prepare the youth and young leaders of tomorrow. How can this be achieved?
I say in all truth that Egypt’s youth are the fuel of hope for Egypt’s future. They represent purity and national conscience. I swear to God there are lots of youth devoted to the nation, and it is my hope that they stand with me. I say to them, “Don’t turn your backs on your country after all you have done for it. Your country needs you” No one who loves his country does not want the youth to stand by his side.
I will give youth the proper preparation for leadership positions. For example, there will a series of study programs at the national defense institute, faculties of economics and the American University in Cairo. We’ll have a comprehensive program at 4,000 youth centers for Egypt’s youth in both cities and villages. These can be developed into full-blown hubs for sports and cultural activities and political awareness. For this we’ll be dedicating LE 5 million to each center. et
Run with full permission of Akhbar Al-Youm. This two-part article first ran in the May 16 edition of Al Akhbar newspaper.