November 22, 2023
Breakfast Briefing on Mega Projects in Egypt: Challenges & Opportunity

British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) organized a seminar on Mega projects with the following speakers, Eng. Khaled Abbas, Chairman of Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD); Mr. Sherif Hamouda, Chairman of GV Group – developer of Tarboul Industrial City; Dr. Ibrahim Mustafa, Deputy Minister of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone); and Dr. Ahmed Sherin, Vice President of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), was moderated by Mr. Karim Helal, President Concord International Investment who shed lights on the challenges and opportunities surrounding the Egyptian economy, the panelists have stressed the importance of realizing the difference between the real obstacles and some perceptions from west financial rating agencies, which contributed to paint unreal picture about the current situation.

Furthermore, the officials have also emphasized that the country enjoys an availability of great opportunities and potentials for localization of industries, promoting the ongoing megaprojects besides the industrial and the economic zones that are among the prominent developmental measures taken by Egypt to enhance investment and stimulate the economy.

Mr. Karim Helal started the talk with optimistic outlook about the ability of the Egyptian economy to come out of the ongoing geopolitical, economic local, regional, and international challenges with the help of the government initiatives, reforms, plans, new legislations, and joint massive projects. Among these challenges are the huge population growth, the unemployment, and job creation which entails ways to best provide productive jobs for the youth.

Helal described the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), Tarboul Industrial City, and Economic Zone of the Suez Canal (SCZone) as three major catalysts for Egypt’s economic future, and the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) as being the supreme promoter for the national mega projects.

For his part, Eng. Khaled Abbas said the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) has been “a dream that comes true” in only six years, started from scratch in 2017 through a team been working on the planning of a new capital. In 2022, ACUD posted pre-tax profits of 20 billion Egyptian pounds in 2022, Abbas said, referring to the company’s targets to reach 26 billion Egyptian pounds by the end of the current year. He expected ACUD’s profits will continue to grow by next year as well, propelled by the start of working on the second phase of 40,000 new feddans by the second quarter of 2024.

ACUD has three major pillars. First, to be a green, the new capital is enveloped by expansive green environs, combining modern buildings, state-of-art facilities, and green spaces, creating a perfect balance between urban life and nature. Second, to be sustainable, Abbas talked about a central command center that will manage the city, connecting IoT-based applications and use algorithms and artificial intelligence to maximize efficiency and minimize waste. Third, to be smart, the city is developed with the strategic vision for a smart city integrating its smart infrastructure to provide many services to both citizens and investors.

Abbas also referred that the masterplan and design for the Central Park of the New Administrative Capital has attained the Middle East Landscape Sustainability Award 2023 in the “Parks and Recreation” category. The award ceremony took place in Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. on November 15 was hosted by Landscape Magazine in association with the International Federation of Landscape Architects Middle East (IFLA Middle East) and Saudi Society of Landscape Architectures (SSLA).

Building a new smart metropolis was based on a vision, to provide a quality-of-life place for citizens and investors, he stated, adding that the transportation there is now perfect with 100,000 state employees being moved already.

When asked about ACUD’s plans to float between some shares of its subsidiaries, Abbas said there are still a number of scenarios understudy. The company plans first to initiate several subsidiaries in sectors of education, water, and waste management, followed by restructuring them until ACUD management makes a final decision.

The new capital is being represented as a model in local and international events, he added, referring to ongoing discussions with four of the best consultants in the world to work on the second and third phases. 

Works on ACUD’s anticipated industrial zone will start next year, Abbas concluded.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sherif Hamouda, Chairman of GV Group – developer of Tarboul Industrial City, the first integrated and smart green industrial city, talked about Tarboul’s visions to be a business model of a livable smart green city. Hamouda referred to the city’s distinguished location, as it spans over ​​109 million sqm in Giza, and located 70 km from the New Cairo, 77 km from the 6th of October City and 10 km from Sokhna port. It is also distinguished by its closeness to the main road network, including the Cairo – Assiut Road, the Regional Ring Road, Cairo Sokhna Road, Fayoum – October Road, and Al Karimat – Zafarana Road.

The city adopts the philosophy of recycling, reuse, and reduction to reduce waste production and reach to achieve the stage of non-production of any waste.

Tarboul’s partners includes Orange and TAQA in addition to a key insurance partner that draws out insurance programs for various sectors, including the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and megaprojects. 

Hamouda stressed the importance of starting localization of industries. It is used to be easy to import but now people realized the importance of localizing of various industries. The city will have around 3,000 factories in versatile industries and several service hubs, including a food valley, a technology and electronics valley, a marble building materials city, a textiles and handicrafts city, a plastics and chemicals hub, as well as a complex for light industries. To date, there are 18 factories.

Tarboul will also have a dry port, a university area, a research and training center, a handicrafts training center, and a warehousing and refrigeration area. Its residential and housing complexes will offer different models, from freestanding homes to flats of different sizes and designs. The city includes an area on which industrial investors can build major industrial complexes on plots varying from 500,000 to 2 million square meters or SMEs on plots from 500 to 20,000 square meters.

Tarboul is a firm supporter for SMEs, Hamouda stated, saying it adopts the programmed of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) among other initiatives.

GV Investments, has created a new initiative, called Sanaa’ (manufacture in Arabic), to support the national industry and increase its contribution to the GDP. The initiative is set to provide several ready-made industrial complexes for SME projects in Tarboul City, through a 0% down payment plan spanning 10 years, in collaboration with the CBE.

To date, around 10 million square meters have been completed in the city, Hamouda said, adding that more details would be revealed next June.

Talking about the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), Dr. Ibrahim Mustafa referred to the recent accomplishments. He said the SCZone has approved 43 major projects in the industrial zones, with $4.6 billion worth of investments, in the past fifteen months. The Authority has a list of target industrial sectors to focus on in the upcoming period, among of which is the green hydrogen that comes as the utmost priority for the SCZone.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ahmed Sherin, Vice President of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), said the authority is supporting and motivating the private sector to play a bigger role and lead the Egyptian market.

“Egypt is a land of opportunities.” Sherin said, referring that the ongoing challenges are only related to the local elements but also to global geopolitical, economic incidents.

The government is putting strenuous efforts to create a “real” and “clear” investment opportunities and GAFI is working around the clock to solve any investment obstacles.

Lastly, a question was asked by an attendee inquiring about the challenges facing the Tarboul project, particularly considering currency issues and the complexities of exports and imports. He highlighted the significant job creation potential and the collaboration between the public and private sectors, with GV leading the project. He sought insights on the challenges that could be addressed by government or other associations to optimize the project’s success.

Mr. Sheriff Hamouda responded by stating that the major challenge lies in the multitude of mega projects initiated by the government since 2015, with Tarboul being among the last to commence. Financial support for infrastructure was not optimal initially, and new rules from GAFI posed additional challenges. He acknowledged the broader economic shifts globally and emphasized the need for a focused organizational target to navigate these changes successfully. Additionally, Sheriff pointed out that currency fluctuations presented another significant challenge for the project.

In conclusion, the briefing showcased Egypt’s robust vision for economic growth through mega projects, sustainable development, and strategic partnerships with the private sector. The emphasis on smart, green, and sustainable cities reflects Egypt’s commitment to innovation and progress.

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