Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Project profile: The government’s plans to develop historic Cairo

PROJECT PROFILE- Developing historic Cairo: The government has been working on several landmark projects in central Cairo to develop old buildings and revamp the cultural landscape in different areas. The development project is also geared towards making several areas in the city attractive for investments. The focus on Cairo comes as the capital city is a historical and cultural center, and is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center thanks to the number of tourist and historical sites, along with the plethora of artifacts.

The price tag: The overall cost for the redevelopment of historic Cairo and slum areas, which spans 10k feddans, stands at around EGP 317 bn, Informal Settlements Development Fund (ISDF) head Khaled Seddik told Enterprise. This price tag includes around EGP 60-70 bn just for the historic Cairo portion of the plan, which is being financed from the Housing Ministry’s budget, Seddik said.

Over the past four years, the government has implemented several projects to develop historic Cairo, including addressing slums and informal buildings. This includes the development of the Maspero Triangle, the 75-acre stretch between the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry and the National Media Authority (historically known as the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, or the Maspero building). The project — the cost of which is estimated to have reached c.EGP 1.7 bnwas awarded to our friends at Orascom Construction, Hassan Allam Construction, Redcon, and Arab Contractors.

Where things currently stand with the broader development plans: The development of historic Cairo is around 90% complete, including patching up building exteriors and upgrading infrastructure such as repaving roads, Seddik told us. This phase of the plan comes ahead of offering investment projects — including building malls — to investors in the area, Seddik said.

What about the development of downtown Cairo? The ISDF has completed all its planned development projects in the area in cooperation with the Armed Forces Engineering Authority, Seddik told us. Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) CEO Ayman Soliman had previously said the fund is looking to work with private sector firms to develop several buildings in the area, including the old youth and sports, tourism, and interior ministry buildings to turn them into a hub for tech businesses. This hub development could help raise Egypt’s annual revenues from IT exports to USD 10 bn, from USD 4.9 bn in FY 2021-2022, Soliman said last month. The plan to repurpose the original ministry buildings comes as these ministries are set to begin moving to the new administrative capital as of next month.

There’s also the Cairo House project — aka the Mogamma’s new lease on life: The SFE introduced its plan to repurpose the Mogamma Tahrir building in downtown Cairo around two years ago. The project, which is expected to cost c.USD 200 mn, will see the iconic building transformed into a new 450-room, five-star hotel. It will have more than 85k sqm of meeting and events spaces, several entertainment venues and restaurants, and feature the capital’s largest rooftop venue. A consortium of US-based Global Ventures and Oxford Capital, along with the UAE’s Al Otaiba Investment signed the contract to take on the project at the end of 2021.

And the development of the former NDP headquarters: The land where the National Democratic Party (NDP) headquarters once stood has been tendered to private sector companies as part of the SFE’s development plans to develop the area. Last we heard, the SFE was planning to announce soon the companies that will be awarded the contract for the development project. The project has garnered plenty of investor interest, particularly as the HQ’s location on the Nile corniche is seen as prime real estate, our sources told us.

Some of these projects are going to see a financial re-evaluation: Financial studies that were previously conducted on several projects under the Cairo redevelopment plan are no longer feasible or applicable as a result of the changing economic landscape, Seddik told us. Pricing has changed drastically with the weakening of the EGP, Seddik noted, saying that the fund has moved to rely more on local resources for implementation to mitigate the cost impact of imported materials. The fund plans to crunch the numbers again on its ongoing projects at a later time to calculate the real cost, taking into account the changes in pricing and the FX rate, he said.

Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • AFC plans to invest USD 1 bn in Egypt’s energy + industrial sectors: The Africa Finance Corporation has identified an “immediate project pipeline” of investments worth more than USD 1 bn in Egyptian infrastructure projects.
  • New Africa infrastructure investment platform: Metito and British International Investment launched the Africa Water Infrastructure Development investment platform to target sustainable projects at scale to address the funding gap in water security.
  • Hassan Allam Utilities + Agility to build logistics parks: Hassan Allam Utilities has formed a joint venture — dubbed Yanmu — with regional warehousing and industrial developer Agility to set up and operate logistics parks in Egypt
  • More data centers this time via Agility: Regional warehousing and industrial firm Agility Logistics Parks will launch a string of data centers across Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Ghana.
  • EuroAfrica project needs an electricity interconnector: Egypt and Greece are in the process of selecting a consultant to conduct feasibility studies for the USD 4 bn EuroAfrica Interconnector that will link their electricity grids.

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