By Shaimaa Ghanem
Since President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi laid the first stone of the New Administrative Capital (NAC), located east of Cairo, back in October 2017, the government has been racing against time and construction works are afoot to deliver the mega project as scheduled. With an area of 170,000 acres, the new capital will include 20 residential areas expected to accommodate 6.5 mn people, as well as a 650-kilometer road network, an international airport, an electric train to link it to 10th of Ramadan and El Salam cities. It will also feature 1,250 mosques and churches, a 5,000-seat conference center, nearly 2,000 schools and colleges, over 600 medical facilities, and a park that is projected to be the largest in the world. Invest-Gate meets Chairman of the New Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) Ahmad Zaki Abdeen to know the latest development works at the NAC. ACUD is 51% owned by the Egyptian Armed Forces and 49% by the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), with a paid-up capital amounting to EGP 20 bn and authorized capital worth EGP 204 bn.
What is NAC Expected to Become In the Coming Years? Additionally, What Has Been Implemented Differently In NAC Compared to Other New Cities?
The new capital is a different type of urban community that will be smart, safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly. The city will be integrated with designs of buildings, neighborhoods, and landscape. To ensure air quality, the city will be equipped with air pollution sensors, while featuring a green river, an unprecedented green space in Egypt. The city is also planned to be a high-tech hub via having the country’s first technological knowledge city, similar to Smart Village, to host research, innovation, and entrepreneurship centers in the fields of advanced digital technologies, like the internet of things, artificial intelligence, embedded systems, and electronic designs. Therefore, the new capital is incomparable.
What Are the Efforts Exerted By ACUD to Market NAC Among Foreign Home Buyers?
The new capital has a number of attractive factors for foreign buyers, such as high-quality and solid infrastructure and services. Having the most influential branded developers in the capital, especially those with great experience in developing mega residential projects of distinctive designs and finishing, will also encourage foreigners to buy properties in the project. Furthermore, road networks and advanced transportation system will connect the capital with other new cities especially Ain Sokhna and New Alamein, a key selling point when marketing the project. Additionally, we participate in foreign real estate exhibitions to brand our project, aiming to acquire a share of property exports.
Is the Implemented Project Different in Any Way From That in the Initial Masterplan?
We are committed to the project’s master plan and development timeline but are open to all real estate projects’ proposals, whether residential or commercial. If a project emerges, it will be included as long as it has an economic feasibility. ACUD sets conditions to ensure implementation of projects on time, with specific financial, technical, and time frame requirements. When contracting with any company, timeframe requirements come first to ensure that the land will not be put on hold for reselling at higher prices. We also put strict construction requirements for any developer to build an integrated urban community other than what was previously built in Egypt. Besides, there are financial requirements to guarantee ACUD’s right in receiving the land’s value. Moreover, the land is available to all developers -whether new or have long experience in the market- those with financial solvency and ability to execute projects, whether they are new or have previous experience in the market.
What is the Situation of the Three Land Offerings for Developers in the First Phase of the Project? When Will ACUD Announce the Fourth Offering of Lands?
The company has sold the entire first and second offering of lands with a total area of 1,700 acres and 2,500 acres, respectively. Notably, 30% of the total area of each phase is being allocated for streets and basic services, while the remaining area is developed through developers and companies. The third offering of 2,469-acre lands in R8 neighborhood consists of 52 land plots. The waiting list of 18 companies- deferred from the first offering- are given a priority in the third offering, while lands sold at the same price offered at the second offering until August 2018. As for the fourth offering, it will be announced after selling all lands in the second and third offerings.
What Are the Updates Regarding the Monorail and the Electric Train?
The capital project is currently close to being linked to other cities through the implementation of the electric train project with a Chinese loan worth USD 2.3 bn. The project’s procedures have already begun and the electric train is planned to extend to the heart of the new capital. Further, the extension of the project came in accordance with ACUD’s requirements to link the capital with other means of transport commensurating with its level of development. We hope that, after finishing the government district, the train will be ready and in full operation to serve citizens. The second project to connect the new capital with the new cities is a monorail, which is scheduled for completion in two years. The ministries of housing and transport have started seeking investors to submit their offers during the upcoming period.
What Are Challenges That May Face the Mega National Project?
There are many challenges facing the green smart project since it is the first of its kind in Egypt. The first challenge is initiating very modern technologies in the city, which are being introduced for the first time in Egypt and the entire Middle East, as well as, building upscale architectural systems for the capital to compete with other modern cities around the world. Another challenge is that the infrastructure of smart cities is very costly. Finally, the provision of utilities such as water, sewage, electricity, gas and other services including roads and landscape are also very expensive.
What is the Percentage of Sold Lands in the First Phase of NAC?
We sold approximately 80% of lands.
When Can Citizens Live in the Capital?
By the end of 2019, all ministries, state agencies, parliament, presidency premises and some of our residential districts will be in full operation. Nevertheless, it will take more than three or four years for people to live in the capital.
How Do You Guarantee That People Will Move to Live in NAC Rather Than Using Their Units For Investment Purposes?
I think when people find all needed services and road networks, as well as, high-class utilities, large green spaces and high-quality technological infrastructure, they will move immediately to live in the city. Moreover, we required developers to deliver their units fully finished so clients won’t deal with the hassle of finishing.
Is NAC Appealing to a Certain Type of Residents?
We do not have a target audience to live in the city. It is open to all social classes; everyone can afford to live there.
What is the Development Cost Of NAC’s First Phase? Are There Any Estimates of How Much the State Allocated to NAC’s Development in the 2017/2018 Budget?
The total cost of NAC’s first phase reached EGP 300 bn. As for the state budget, we do not incur the state any costs because as I mentioned before, we sell lands to developers to get cash for the development process.
What is the Rate of Foreign Investments in NAC?
Foreigners acquire 40-50% of the total investments in the new capital and we expect this percentage to increase in the coming period.
How Many Schools and Universities Applied for Obtaining Lands In NAC?
A total of 13 private and international schools applied to ACUD to acquire lands. Six schools out of the 13 have so far acquired lands in the third offering, in the eighth residential neighborhood (R8), with a total area of 18.26 acres. The six schools paid 20% of the land’s value as a down payment and first installment, while the rest of the schools paid only 2% as a down payment. Besides, there are seven international universities in NAC- Egyptian and foreign partnerships- in the project’s first phase; and one of these universities is in full operation and is currently receiving students.
Are There New Negotiations With Developers to Obtain Lands?
There are ongoing negotiations with Emaar Misr over a 1,500-acre land for the establishment of an integrated residential project. The land is very distinctive in terms of location, so we are trying to reach on a land price favourable for both parties. Besides, negotiations with the Talaat Moustafa Group Holding (TMG Holding) are still ongoing over an area of 5,000 acres in the new capital.
Moving to the Business District, How Many Banks Received Their Lands Inside the New Capital?
ACUD delivered lands for approximately 16 out of 30 banks in the district.
What is the Latest Update on the Diplomatic District?
ACUD has completed 80% of the utilities and infrastructure at the diplomatic district. We provide embassies with design samples, yet they have the choice to design their buildings upon their desire.
How Many Embassies Showed Interest in Moving to NAC? Is There a Deadline for Embassies to Move to NAC?
A total of 56 embassies in Egypt sent requests to Ministry of Foreign Affairs to move to the new capital. And no, there is no deadline or an obligation for embassies to move to the administrative capital, but this will become necessary once all state institutions and ministries move there.
What Are the Latest Developments Going With Regards to Industrial Activities in NAC?
The company is keen on establishing industries that are not polluting the environment, and negotiations are still underway with China Fortune Land Development (CFLD) to carry out the infrastructure of industrial zones inside NAC. The first phase will include only residential, commercial, and administrative activities, but industrial activities will not be included in that phase. ACUD is open to any industrial investment that is environmentally friendly.