Minister of Housing challenges “caretaker government” label with strategic plan for urban development 


In spite of Egypt’s complicated political, economic and security situations, Dr. Mohamed Fathi El Baradei, the minister of housing, has put forth a strategic plan for urban development. This is his gift to future generations who are certain to experience rapid population growth.

Dr. El Baradei’s urban development plan challenges the short term thinking that asserts that “the caretaker government”, meaning Dr. Ganzouri and his ministers, should not be involved in making strategic plans for any project. I disagree; we should encourage anyone who is willing to work for our future, even if their stay in power is limited.

According to the El Baradei, the keys to Egypt’s future renaissance are solar energy, desalination of sea water and logistics. Below is a brief outline describing the main features of the urban development strategy.

The main challenges for development

• Population challenges: poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, population that will double over the next 40 years.

• Economic challenges: the scarcity of traditional resources (those prone to depletion like groundwater, oil and gas).

• Space challenges: population concentration in 7.5% of the total area, urban sprawl and the erosion of agricultural land (13 thousand acres per year on average between 1984-2007).

Standard indicators for development programs

• rate of population growth, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, number of slums, and agricultural area.

• the proportion of desalinated sea water to total water resources.

• the proportion of new energy sources to total energy.

• the lengths of regional road networks and railways.

• current situation and future vision for 5, 15, and 40 years.

Key features of the national strategic plan for urban development until 2052

• adding 12 million acres to the inhabited area.

• providing 29 million new jobs.

• turning to non-conventional resources of water and energy.

Main pillars of development

• Economic efficiency: maximizing use of resources through development of agriculture, industry, trade and production; promoting tourism; and increasing alternative energy.

• Social justice: reducing poverty through the redrawing of governorate borders to integrate the poor areas with areas having resources; development of poor areas in Upper Egypt, including rehabilitating slums; and improving regional roads.

• Environmental and national security: addressing risks to the environment, as well as to internal and external security.

Urgent national development projects to be completed within 5 years:

1. Implementing Phase I of the development of the Suez Canal as a center for global logistics.

2. Applying the results of scientific research in the fields of solar energy and desalination of sea water (such as with the two projects of the north-west coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and the one of the Red Sea coast).

3. Ending illiteracy in the age group 15 to 35 targeted by law.

4. Raising the efficiency of vocational education in 3 areas: developing school infrastructure, creating immediate employment for graduates, upgrading the efficiency level of teachers.

5. Eliminating unsafe slums.

6. Executing a housing program for resettling 10 million citizens.

7. Increasing Egypt’s share of Nile water to 62 billion cubic meters through joint projects with Nile Basin countries (such as the projects of Jonglei Canal, Bahr el Ghazal, and Machar Marshes).

Instead of criticizing Minister El Baradei, we should be thanking him for his refusal to stand by while the future of coming generations is ruined, thanking him for his decision to begin working now on meeting Egypt’s most critical challenges.

translated from Al-Akhbar

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