With investments of EGP 350 bn, the government has succeeded in achieving a development boom in Upper Egypt within seven years through its Upper Egypt Local Development Program (UELDP) as presented at Egypt’s international forum at Dubai Expo 2020, Invest-Gate reports.

On November 4, the Egyptian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai has hosted a session entitled “Development and Investment in Upper Egypt — Showcasing Best Practices”. The World Bank has included the Upper Egypt Local Development Program (UELDP) as one of the best practices that achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Minister of Local Development Mahmoud Shaarawy gives the main speech, in participation with Deputy Director of the Program Khaled Abdel Halim and the World Bank’s Senior Urban Expert Mohamed Nada; meanwhile, UELDP Director Hisham El Helbawy moderates the session, in the presence of a number of representatives of the business community in Egypt and the UAE.

The session presents the experiment of urban development in Upper Egypt as it is a model based on administrative decentralization that aims to reduce the gap between rural and urban areas. The speakers review the urban development updates in Upper Egypt through three main axes:

A Qualitative Leap in Upper Egypt in Seven Years

El Shaarawy reviews the government’s efforts during seven years from 2014 to June 30 2021.  He remarks that the government has spent EGP 350 bn on local development programs in Upper Egypt including, EGP 58 bn for sanitation projects, EGP 48 bn for the health sector, EGP 40 bn for the industrial sector,  EGP 41 bn for the road sector, ُEGP 38 bn in the electricity sector and EGP 30bn in the elimination of slums. Moreover, the infrastructure implementation rate has increased from 7% to 34% and is set to reach 45% in 2022.

El Shaarawy states that the government has implemented 3,589 projects in Sohag and Qena within the framework of the program until the end of the fiscal year 2020/2021. Besides, the government plans to carry out 630 projects in the fiscal year 2021/2022.

He further affirms that supporting the industrial sector is a top priority in the program; therefore, the government has established industrial zones in Fayoum, Beni Suef and Assiut. Additionally, Egypt has spent EGP 6 bn to provide four industrial zones in Qena and Sohag, noting that four industrial zones are underway in the two governorates as well as four industrial zones in Assiut and Minya.

Speaking of the ULDP results, El Helbawy indicates that occupancy rates in some industrial areas increased from 3% to 74%, where 8,754 companies are now operational, in addition to 751 factories. Moreover, he stresses that linking these areas with ports and procedures to facilitate investments, land allocation and operating licenses led to attracting more investments. Accordingly, the poverty rate has decreased by 7%.

The UELDP’s Action Mechanisms

UELDP is a governmental program partially supported by the World Bank. The program began in 2015 with the agreement of a loan from the World Bank worth USD 500mn. However, the actual implementation of the program began in 2018.

Regarding the UELDP’s main mechanism, Abdel Halim elaborates that it is based on the “Grants In Exchange For Performance” principle. It is a principle approved by the World Bank, in which the loan’s value is divided into several payments that are granted to the governorates if they achieve advanced levels of performance on the implementation indicators.

Abdel Halim indicates that the UELDP has two main components. The first is to raise the level of infrastructure, develop local administration and support decentralization. The second is to support the competitiveness of economic sectors and improve the business environment.

The UELDP Best Practices.

The World Bank has acknowledged the success of the UELDP and considered it to contain best practices that can be applied to development experiences in other countries. In this regard, Nada highlights the following best practices:

  • Coordination and interdependence between ministries at the central level in implementing the program.
  • Enabling the local administration of the governorates and supporting decentralization.
  • The program’s adoption of the principle of gradual implementation, as the program witnessed a gradual increase in the ability of the local administration to implement.
  • Relying on the principle of experimentation, the program began experimenting in two governorates to develop the local administration within them. After its success, the ministry approved the generalization of this experiment.
  • Creating good competition between the governorates.

El Shaarawy adds that the program has introduced seven best practices, including improving local revenues and enhancing transparency by integrating civil society organizations and the private sector in the implementation and follow-up of development projects.