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Egypt plans expansion of new capital as first residents arrive

Egypt is gearing up to invest billions in doubling the dimensions of a lavish new capital being constructed in the desert, situated 45 km (28 miles) east of Cairo.

Egypt plans expansion of new capital, as first residents arrive
  • Egypt is preparing up to invest billions in doubling the dimensions of a new capital being constructed in the desert.
  • Initial residents of the city are gradually moving in.
  • Critics argue that these projects divert resources and contribute to an escalation of Egypt's debt burden.
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The city is the largest among a series of mega-projects that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, says are essential for economic development and to accommodate the burgeoning population of 105 million. However, critics argue that these projects divert resources and contribute to an escalation of Egypt's debt burden.

After external borrowing to help construct new capital, develop infrastructure, acquire armaments, and sustain an inflated currency, Egypt faces an increasingly difficult challenge of generating funds for international debt obligations.

In July, government employees were relocated to ministries and offices constructed in the first phase of the new city, eight years after the initiation of the project known as the New Administrative Capital (NAC), Reuters reported. The head of the company supervising the project mentioned that initial residents are gradually moving in.

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According to Khaled Abbas, Chairman of the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), nearly 48,000 employees commute to the area every day.

Built on virgin land, the city is designed to serve as a futuristic, high-tech model, offering a departure from the congestion and disorder of Cairo. The government envisions it as a solution to accommodate a portion of Egypt's rapidly growing population, estimated at 1.6% per year.

While the pace of construction seems to have slowed recently, the first phase of the city already boasts 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.

An electric train from eastern Cairo commenced operations last spring, and according to Abbas, an elevated monorail is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of this year.

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Major banks and other businesses will move their headquarters by the first quarter of 2024.

ACUD, owned 51% by the military and 49% by the housing ministry, spent 500 billion Egyptian pounds on phase one infrastructure and buildings, Abbas said.

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