By Eman El Sherbiney

In one of Egypt’s gutsy endeavors to jump on the bandwagon of modernity and efficiency, a new capital was proposed at the 2015 Egypt Economic Development Conference.

Located 45 kilometers east of Cairo, the new administrative capital has attracted a number of investments and memorandums of understanding (MoUs), the latest of which were 7 MoUs signed by an Egyptian-Chinese alliance.

The EGP 400 billion ($ 45 billion) city, which will span over 700 square kilometers and house 5 million, promises a global and vibrant city. The city will include 10,000 kilometers of avenues and streets, 40,000 hotel rooms, and retail malls with upscale amenities and facilities.

A little under a year after the new capital announcement, the cabinet had approved in January 2016 the project’s first phase to connect facilities at a cost of EGP 4 billion. By April of the same year four construction companies were assigned to execute the new capital’s infrastructure and first phase.

In a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi earlier in March Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, Moustafa Madbouly, said that a state-owned company will be the lead developer when it comes to general planning, introduction of infrastructure, and leading  construction of the residential part of the project, Al Ahram reported.

The first phase is due to include the construction of 12 ministries, some governmental institutions, 25,000 housing units, and the world’s biggest park. The Army’s Engineering Authority also started working on 210 kilometers of roads with a 120 meter width, Chief of Staff of the Authority Kamel Al Wazir said during the meeting with President Al Sisi.

Al Wazir previously said that the Authority commenced the implementation of bridges and the ring road to connect the Administrative Capital and New Cairo. Railways on the other hand, have been discussed between the Housing and Transportation Ministries. “Linking the new capital to the country’s railway network will grant Northern Greater Cairo an easy access to the administrative city,” Madbouly said. Itineraries from the new capital to Greater Cairo are being discussed with the Minister of Transportation, Galal El Saeed, as well as questions addressing when construction should take place and projected costs.

During the Global Symposium for Regulators Conference that was held in Sharm El Sheikh in May 2016, Head of the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), Alaa Nessim, said that the authority has collaborated with the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to approve studies filed by international consulting companies for the city to be attuned with international standards and criteria, as well as be the biggest Smart City in the Middle East.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology reaffirmed its commitment to develop digital infrastructure in the city, while also promising  to keep up with the dynamics of change of digital services such as banking, finance and traffic control, said Minister of Communication and Information Technology Yasser Al Qady.

 China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) was one of the parties that signed the seven MOUs, which will provide EGP 27 billion ($3 billion) of funding for the project.  CSCEC will build the planned 12 ministry buildings, starting with the Ministry of Housing, the new cabinet building, a conference center, and a fairground. “The Ministry of Housing formed a workgroup of all the state bodies in charge of the technical designs of the new capital, to work directly with the CSCEC delegate on selecting the designs and raw materials, and setting a timeline,” Madbouly told Al Borsa. Last March, Madbouly paid an official visit to China to meet with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and discuss the possibility of granting Egypt a loan.

The ministry also signed an MoU with the China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) to execute the Sports Olympic Park City over 2,000 acres, and another MoU with the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) to build an amusement city over 600 acres.

The steady steps each authority is taking are making the progress of the new capital a reality. The fact that the new capital will be connected to Greater Cairo and other cities makes it a practical project, and vital to the growth of Egypt.