New Administrative Capital: Vital national project to cost journalists



Thu, 08 Mar 2018 - 05:16 GMT


Thu, 08 Mar 2018 - 05:16 GMT

FILE – New Administrative Capital

FILE – New Administrative Capital

CAIRO – 8 March 2018: With ministries and key institutions moving to the New Administrative Capital, newspapers, magazines and media outlets will face mobility challenges in covering important news.

Whilst the project is set to bring millions of dollars in revenue to Egypt, it is expected to cost news outlets in terms of transportation allowances, increasing staff members to ensure full coverage of all institutions in Egypt, or complete relocation from down town Cairo to the New Administrative Capital.

Newspapers, and media outlets, in general, have to be in a strategic location in the city within which they operate to ensure that they cover the most important news as fast as possible.

Their location needs to be strategic to ensure they can reach all key locations as fast as possible, ensuring they do not miss important news, events, press releases or announcements, and that they cover breaking news as fast as possible.

Each of the 30 ministries in Egypt, as well as the Prime Minister, requires a reporter for coverage. Then, there are reporters needed to cover the parliament, as well as parliamentary findings and committees. Photographers are also needed, however, the number of those varies depending on the circumstances and proceedings of the day; and, of course, analysts are needed too.

Thus, some 40 staff members are required during the daytime working hours to cover the ministries, Prime Minister and parliament.

Now, this is just on the political front. There is also the business, cultural and sport fronts.

Business-wise, there is a need for a couple of reporters to cover the broker market, others to cover the property development and real estate sectors and so on.

What will all these reporters and photographers do when the ministries and banks relocate to the New Administrative Capital? Will Egypt’s newspapers begin to lose ground like Brazil’s media outlets did? I truly hope not.

Journalism in Egypt has always been a leader of change.

Newspapers and news sites have always been shoulder-to-shoulder with those trying to develop Egypt and edge it forwards. Reporters always make sure to point out the good, help develop on the mediocre and provide advice on how to change what is not going too well. Journalists give voice to the people and adopt everyday issues that citizens have, whilst also connecting those in key offices to the people.

Journalists are the connecting link between the two worlds.

Relocation of ministries and financial institutions to the New Administrative Capital is a positive move; it will lead to significant development. However, it will have negative side-effects on newspapers and media outlets: they will have to either relocate next to the new capital, meaning they will not be in the middle of Cairo anymore; they would have to have two offices, increasing their costs significantly and leading to disengagement between staff members; or they would have to give transportation allowances to reporters, or allocate buses for them to use to reach the New Administrative Capital. All three options are not without their issues.

The first option would entail moving everyone and everything to the New Administrative Capital, meaning that reporters, photographers and analysts would be beside the key institutions but away from everything else. This means that newspapers’ costs would increase significantly and they would be spread out too thin.

The second option would mean that they would work both in Cairo and in the New Administrative Capital, but that they will not be connected. They will no longer operate as one; instead, they would become two groups uploading their work onto the same platform, be it a website or printed press. The news or media outlet would start losing its collective identity and workers would connect less and less.

The third option ensures that the outlet remains intact and has its identity but wastes a lot of the reporters’ time in commuting. Moreover, it means that newspapers would have to pay more than they can afford, as they would need to provide people with a transportation allowance or provide buses.

All three options have their issues and their benefits, however, what the three make clear is that it is time to move forwards and work on a way out of the small side-effect that is expected to occur as a result of the New Administrative Capital. The capital is a great project, one that Egyptians should be very proud of, however, it holds the possibility of disintegrating the media with events on the ground, a problem that may leave Egyptians without current news on the most important happenings of the day.

We need to act now to ensure that the press, government and key institutions work together and find a suitable solution that will not cost any party a lot.

Looking into the New Administrative Capital

Early October 2017, Egypt celebrated the launching of the first phase of the new Administrative Capital. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi opened the ceremony with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail by his side.

“It is too early to say we have achieved anything… this is only the first step,” Sisi said, noting that the New Administrative Capital will be registered in history as a major achievement and a turning point in Egypt’s development.

Head of the Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority Kamil El-Wazir said during the opening ceremony that the authority started working on the project in July 2016. “We were assigned to work on the government district, which will spread over 1,133 feddans and will include buildings of ministries and the parliament.”

He added that they are working on the residential district, the New Capital Airport, universities and a network of roads and tunnels.

The New Administrative Capital is the government’s ambitious means of expanding urban development in Cairo and accommodating the rising population of Egypt. The project has been announced in 2015 and is being developed by the New Administrative Capital for Urban Development.

The project’s first phase is worth a total of $8 billion and spans over 12,500 feddans, featuring 25,000 residential units and infrastructure projects, according to the Minister of Housing and Urban Communities Mostafa Madbouly.

Approximately 96 kilometers of roads, water supplies, rural sanitation projects, and irrigation systems will be included in the same phase where they’ll be constructed by 17 contractors.

The entire project features a total of 20 residential neighborhoods worth $15 billion, eight of which will be built in the first phase. The residential areas in the project will include an array of accommodation units including apartments, villas, town houses, office spaces and commercial areas.

The Egyptian government has created a master plan for the New Administrative Capital City, which is supposed to include residential districts, educational facilities, hospitals, 40,000 hotel rooms, a theme park, solar panels, and an international airport, making it a local and regional investment hub.

The government has offered several land plots in the mega project to developers and investors earlier this year to include active agents in the developments such as the Arab Contractors, Concord for Engineering and Contracting Company, and Talaat Mostafa Group Holding Company.

Considered one of the world’s largest hotels, Al Masah Capital Hotel has been opened in the third quarter of 2017. It spans over 10 acres of land and features a conference area, lakes, mosque, and a mall.

The project features 20 towers including the tallest tower in Africa that will have a height of 345 meters according to Madbouly’s statement.

CEO of the New Administrative Capital for Urban Development Company, Ayman Ismail, has stated earlier at the Euromoney Conference, which was held in September, that the mega project is meant to feature mixed-use developments accompanied by a full transportation scheme.

Ismail has spoken during the conference about the benefits of building mixed-use developments serving larger numbers of the Egyptian population; elaborating that the company needed to expand urbanization and land was the main source of accommodating the growing population of Cairo that contains over 20 million citizens.

He strictly emphasized that the project is not a replacement for the actual capital of Cairo but is a further expansion to it, and that it will also not operate in the same manner as recent developments in areas like New Cairo and 6th of October City.

“Cairo is facing a challenge with government institutions and offices being centered in downtown, and the plan here is to relocate these offices to the project in the ‘government district’ while also serving an economic purpose of acquiring revenues worth $10 billion by 2030, and being in proximity to Cairo and the SCZone,” Ismail explained.

Ismail added that the government district will be finalized by 2018 and state institutions will be relocating in 2019.

The headquarters of the Egyptian presidency will be relocated to the New Administrative Capital by June 2019, said Chairperson of the New Administrative Capital for Urban Development Ahmad Zaki Abdeen.

He added in an interview with CBC that the New Administrative Capital is planned to be a sustainable and smart city, housing the ministries, parliament, Egyptian Media Production City, presidential palaces, and embassies.

Abdeen pointed out that 25 public and private construction companies have been mandated to carry out the infrastructure projects and build the residential neighborhoods of the new capital, while the armed forces are only responsible for managing the project.

He added that the company provided about 170,000 jobs in the construction operations and the coming phases of the project will require more workers, stressing that the state treasury does not bear the burden of financing any phase of the project.

Abdeen expected that housing prices in Cairo will decline significantly in the coming years because of the rise of supply in the market after completing the construction of the planned 350,000 housing units in the capital.

The New Administrative Capital Company is 51% owned by the armed forces and 49% by the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The paid-up capital of the company amounts to LE 20 billion, including contributions from the armed forces and NUCA, and the authorized capital is LE 204 billion.

With an area of 170,000 feddans, the new capital will include 20 residential areas expected to accommodate 6.5 million people and a road network 650 km in length. The capital will include an international airport and an electric train to link it with the 10th of Ramadan and El-Salam cities.

It will 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 world’s largest.

It has been confirmed that the New Administrative Capital will include six international universities from the United States, Britain, Hungary, Canada, Sweden and France, said Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdul Ghaffar early November 2017.

This was during the International Education Conference held in the United Kingdom November 1, 2017, entitled “Cross Boundary Education in Egypt and the Chances of Investment in the Higher Education.”

“The universities will improve our educational system, as they will qualify graduates for competing internationally,” Abdul Ghaffar stated, adding that the universities' role will not be limited to education only, as part of the budget will be spent on scientific research.

The Egyptian government is concerned with providing all the necessary needs of the Egyptian youth regarding higher education through inserting different fields in both governmental and private universities, as well as providing international education in Egypt.

Egypt seeks to restore its position among high education centers in the Middle East and Africa and to double the number of overseas students. This would increase its national income, attract foreign investments in the higher education sector and help establish branches of international universities in the New Administrative Capital.

During his speech, Abdul Ghaffar stressed on the good relations between Egypt and the U.K., particularly in the scientific and cultural fields and the partnerships promoted between Egyptian and English institutions.

Abdul Ghaffar reviewed Egypt’s 2030 vision, asserting that this vision requires a strong infrastructure and human personnel qualified for growth and development.



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