2021 Yearender: The new republic

Gamal Essam El-Din , Friday 31 Dec 2021

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is poised to declare a new republic in 2022. Al-Ahram Weekly examines what this means.

The new republic
The House of Representatives building in the New Capital

On 9 March, while attending a cultural symposium organised by the Armed Forces to mark Martyrs Day, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said that “the inauguration of the New Administrative Capital will herald the birth of a new republic in Egypt.”

President Al-Sisi elaborated, saying the term new republic also encompassed a series of so-called fourth generation cities that are being built across Egypt and which should be complete by 2022. “We will open new smart cities, not just the New Administrative Capital, but in Aswan, Alamain, Mansoura, Rosetta, and so on. This is a dramatic development in Egypt. It is not just a question of new buildings, but marks a new form of sustainable development that will be the hallmark of the new republic.”

In a speech on 15 July, celebrating the first stage of the National Project for the Development of the Egyptian Countryside’s Villages (the Decent Life Initiative), Al-Sisi said the inauguration of the mega development project was a prerequisite of “the birth of the new republic”.

During a press conference with Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban in Budapest in October, President Al-Sisi said: “Egypt intends to open a new administrative capital next year, on which occasion I will declare a new republic.”

In the first week of November, Al-Sisi instructed government offices to begin a gradual move to the New Administrative Capital.

The relocation, said Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, had been delayed by almost a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Madbouli indicated that the cabinet would begin meeting in the Government District in the new city in December, beginning a six-month phase during which government employees begin working in the new capital, and new electronic systems are tested.

A 2021 cabinet report said the term “new republic” referred to the “fourth generation cities which Egypt will inaugurate in 2022”. The report identified a two-pronged strategy — to develop new urban centres to accommodate Egypt’s rapid population growth, and to improve the quality of life available in older towns and cities. Together, said the report, “these projects have cost LE5.8 trillion since 2014.”

Services in smart cities, all of which have been designed to be replete with cultural centres and green spaces, will be operated by automated and fully integrated administrative systems. The 30 new cities under construction occupy 580,000 feddans, which will eventually house 30 million people.