Housing minister unveils first phase of national development plan

Housing and Urban Development Minister Tareq Wafiq announced Wednesday that officials had completed the first phase of a national strategic plan for development.

During a Cabinet meeting, Wafiq said the plan accommodates the country's population growth projections in the next 40 years as well as resource demands like electricity and water.

The scheme, developed via input from community dialogues, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Engineers Syndicate, the Supreme Culture Council and specialized NGOs, aims to redistribute populations, promote the develop of new, outlying communities and boost industry and jobs in these same areas.

It also seeks to promote tourism, a chief economic driver, with the eventual goal of welcoming 52 million visitors annually by 2052, while doubling current employment rates and returning GDP growth to between 5 percent and 7 percent.   

To achieve these lofty goals, the ministry hopes to improve transportation networks linking Egypt's ports and cities as well as reclaim 6 million acres of land to be used for agriculture. Boosting production and farmland irrigation is on the agenda as well as plans to implement better desalination processes and expand the production of biofuels, feed and foodstuffs.

In terms of the telecommunications and information technology sector, the minister said Egypt should aim for 7 percent to 10 percent annual growth in this area to meet international and domestic demand and continue to focus on telecommunications infrastructure.

As for industrial pursuits, Wafiq said the country must learn to compete globally to boost exports and create the infrastructure for advanced industrial zones, all the while promoting the use of renewable energies.

The national plan is divided into three phases for implementation, with the first phase ending in 2017.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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