El Sisi defends Egypt's mega projects as 'essential' to future amid economic downturn

Egyptian leader assures vulnerable Egyptians of the state's unwavering support in face of soaring prices

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. AFP
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The much maligned multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects undertaken by Egypt in recent years are essential to the country's economic development and the creation of an attractive investment climate, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said on Monday.

Speaking at a ceremony marking Police Day, the Egyptian leader also assured Egypt's vulnerable of the state's continued support in the face of soaring food prices, while dismissing claims that the economic crisis rocking the country was of his government's own making.

Mr El Sisi has for months tirelessly defended his economic policies, saying the national projects that have cost the nation billions of dollars over the past seven years were not to blame for Egypt's present woes, as many of his critics contend.

A timelapse showing the construction of Cairo's new administrative capital.

Those projects include new cities such as the $60 billion new capital east of Cairo, thousands of kilometres of new roads, electric trains, a nuclear reactor and hundreds of bridges.

On Monday, Mr El Sisi offered his most detailed defence of his handling of the economy, particularly the projects he has personally supervised since taking office nearly nine years ago.

“The mega development projects undertaken by the state are not for show or for bragging. They laid the foundation for a [suitable] investment environment; and it takes essential infrastructure to achieve that, along with comprehensive economic development that lifts the standard of living for everyone,” he said.

“It is impossible, and that's not debatable, for us to make progress in modern industries and have massive exports without the necessary tools to achieve that.”

A shopper at an outdoor clothes market in the Bulaq district in Cairo, Egypt. EPA

Mr El Sisi blamed the Russia-Ukraine war for his country's economic woes as well as the coronavirus pandemic before it.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, Egypt's currency has lost about 50 per cent of its value. Inflation is in the double digits — 21.3 per cent year-on-year in November — and a persistent foreign currency crunch continues to devastate local industries dependent on foreign components or material.

“We know that the impact of the crisis is huge and cause pain to our people, especially those with limited income and the most needy who are in a massive struggle every day,” he said.

“We stand by them, offering support to secure the needs of their families in the face of rising prices. I assure you that our support for them is permanent and that … will not change.”

Updated: January 23, 2023, 5:39 PM
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