EGYPT: Smart city to replace current capital, Cairo

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EGYPT: Smart city to replace current capital, Cairo ©Jen Watson/Shutterstock

The Egyptian government will move into the new city under construction by June 2019. Although its name is still unknown, the authorities say it will be a smart city with a large green space, capable of housing 6.5 million people.

It is almost a dream come true as the project has been postponed several times since the 70s. 45 km from the city of Cairo, the capital of Egypt, a new city is emerging from the earth with no name yet, but a little more is known about the city that will replace the current capital, Cairo.

The 34 ministries of the Egyptian government and the presidential complex will move there by June 2019, according to the authorities, who have assured that the construction site is “moving very fast”, as technicians and engineers are working day and night. This city should be bigger than Singapore.

A city for 6.5 million inhabitants

The new one is built on a virgin ground, in the middle of the desert, in the great region of Cairo, between the Nile (the river) and the Suez Canal. This means that there are no inhabitants in the area, except for the workers on the big construction site. According to former Brigadier General Khaled el -Husseiny Soliman, responsible for international coordination with the administrative capital for urban development (which monitors a partnership between the Ministry of Housing and the army, editor’s note), it will be the country’s “most high-tech” city, housing the tallest tower in Africa, Egypt’s tallest minaret.

The new Egyptian capital can accommodate 6.5 million people.

The city will be equipped with several sensors that will signal smoke or fires to emergency services and an “intelligent traffic system” from the same source. It will also have a huge green space larger than New York’s Central Park in the United States, which has an area of 341 hectares. The future capital of the Pharaohs’ country will have a mega shopping centre, residential areas, a science and technology campus; and a cultural complex including an opera house, theatres and cinema.

The religious question has not been neglected. A church is nearing completion and will have the highest bell tower in North Africa. The first infrastructures have already been delivered; such as the Al Masa hotel, managed by the army, which was inaugurated by President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi a few months ago. The city’s housing stock will accommodate at least 6.5 million people.

The costs of a project that divides

If the desire to build a large city in the middle of the desert leaves the Egyptians stunned, particularly for its capacity to relieve congestion in the large city of Cairo (more than 18 million inhabitants in 2015) yet there are many observers who do not hesitate to criticise the project, including its funding. Officially, the Egyptian government talked about 43 billion euros in 2015. An enormous sum, especially as it is known that the country was going through an economic crisis after a great political instability marked in particular by a coup d’état against the elected president Mohamed Morsi.

In any case, the project received funding from the Emirati crown, notably through Prince Mohammed Ben Zahed. The exact amount has not been specified. China State Engineering has also injected around 15 billion euros into the project. Faced with these criticisms, the Egyptian government responded by saying that land sales will offset the cost of the project.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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