Egypt’s new desert capital faces delays

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with REUTERS

Egypt’s government wants to start running the nation from a new capital in the desert from mid-2020, but the $58 billion project is struggling to raise funds and needs to overcome other challenges after investors pulled out.

Workers are rushing to build core areas of the new city to replace Cairo, the existing capital on the Nile that has become a traffic-clogged, urban sprawl of more than 20 million people.

The project, launched in 2015 by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a year after he was first elected president, aims to offer a clean and efficient base for the government and finance industry, as well as homes for at least 6.5 million people.

large scale of the work leads to large scale problems

But the project, which also seeks to lift an economy dented by political turmoil after 2011, lost a lead investor from the United Arab Emirates and is now being run by the Housing Ministry and the army’s Engineering Authority.

“There is very strong interest from the political leadership in the project,” said Ahmed Zaki Abdeen, a retired general who heads the company building the new city, told Reuters.

But he said “the large scale of the work leads to large scale problems”, such as finding enough skilled labor to wire up the “smart city” and raising about 1 trillion Egyptian pounds ($58 billion) in financing over coming years from land sales and other investment.