File Photo: Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi during the youth conference held in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya in April (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt's fourth National Youth Conference is scheduled to start in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria on Monday.
Launched by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and organised by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the two-day conference will address the Egypt 2030 Development Plan; the ambitious development programme formulated by the government, the private sector and NGOs, which has been two years in the making.
For the past few months, national youth conferences were held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Aswan and Ismailia to discuss issues directly related to young people, such as ways to enhance their political participation and prepare them for being future leaders.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina said in a statement that as many as 1,300 young people will attend the conference's meetings.
"They will come from the governorates of Alexandria, Marsa Matruh, Beheira, and Kafr El-Sheikh," said the statement, adding that "young people representing business associations, political parties, and NGOs will also participate for the first time."
The statement said that the conference will be attended by cabinet ministers, heads of political parties, professional syndicates, and universities, as well as journalists and media people and representatives of the National Council for Women and the National Council for Human Rights.
Minister of Planning Hala El-Saied described the 2030 Development Plan as a long-term national strategy that will transform Egypt into an advanced economy.
"The plan targets economic growth rates of 7 percent per annum, improving the living conditions of Egyptians and moving the country forward towards prosperity," said El-Saied.
The conference will be held against the backdrop of heated debate over Egypt's tough economic reform measures, which have been negatively affecting the lives of millions of Egyptians.
On 29 June, the government cut fuel subsidies more than 30 percent as part of the reform plan, bringing the total of fuel price hikes to 80 percent in eight months.
Hussein Eissa, the head of parliament's budget committee, told Ahram Online that "the IMF-inspired reforms are a bitter medicine we have to take and which is already starting to pay off."
"Although these reforms have caused millions of citizens to move below the poverty line, they have saved Egypt from bankruptcy," said Eissa, pointing out that "while Egypt's foreign exchange reserves were below $14 billion in November 2016 – the lowest in decades – they have grown after eight months of bold reforms to around $32 billion."
Eissa said he expects that economic and development plans as well as security challenges will top the agenda of debates in the coming National Youth Conference.