Khaled Abbas of ACUD Presents the New Administrative Capital: Egypt’s Upcoming Smart Green City

Eng. Khaled Abbas talks latest developments regarding the New Capital project and discusses investment opportunities in Egypt. He also explains what makes New Cairo different and unique, and shares plans and timelines for the next few years. The New Administrative Capital is developed with the strategic vision for a smart city integrating its smart infrastructure to provide many services to citizens.

Interview with Eng. Khaled Abbas, Chairman and Managing Director of ACUD

Eng. Khaled Abbas, Chairman and Managing Director of ACUD

Where are you currently in the developments and rolling out of the New Capital? What challenges have you overcome and what strategies are you implementing in introducing New Cairo to the world?

Phase One of the New Capital is 40,000 feddan. The city encompasses a government district where we will start receiving the employees starting from January 2023. They will be coming in in waves up to the end of March. By the end of March, we will have between 30,000 to 40,000 public service employees here in the buildings of the government district. Although the buildings are ready, this move represents a huge challenge, especially its management because this will be the first district to be occupied by residents; let alone the transportation of which we are fully responsible of daily transporting this big number of employees into the New Capital, both coming in and going out. They will be coming by busses, the LRT, etc. We are also dedicating some roads exclusively for the employees use as well as reserving other roads for the construction trucks since we still have a lot of construction happening here. So, we need to segregate the mix between the trucks and the employees in this aspect. By the beginning of January, the show will start. This will be the actual test for ACUD as a company and for the management, for the buildings, for the systems, for the infrastructure, in short for everything. We have done our best and we have done our testing and commissioning; everything is ready now. Concerning Phase Two and Phase Three, we already have a tender for the master plan of both phases, and we are in the process of developing those master plans. By mid-2023, we will start the infrastructure for Phase Two which is another 40,000 feddan. There will be a lot of opportunities coming up at that time.

What kind of opportunities are you offering to international investors, partners, and companies that are interested in coming to the New Capital and investing in Egypt as a whole?

The New Capital is one of our mega projects in the state; a sustainable city, executed for the future of Egypt as a prototype of a fully smart greenfield city that is designed to cater for all the requirements of investors. For the past few years, we have been talking about the New Capital which targets to absorb a population of 6 to 8 million inhabitants within the coming 10 to 15 years with all services like schools, health, entertainment, etc., at a stretch of an arm. We have availed some services, but we still have a long way to go. On the short term, meaning within the coming 5 years, we are estimating a population between 1 to 1.5 million inhabitants residing here with access to all necessary services. Apart from the retail, office, and residential uses, we will soon launch a new industrial zone by Sokhna Road only 50 kilometers away from Sokhna Port. Situated in a prime location for the industry, this industrial zone will encourage investors who can export out of the country since Egypt has many deals with African companies in the COMESA and other countries that offer several incentives for Egyptian products. The Prime Minister has declared the New Capital as Zone A which according to the Egyptian investment law provides attractive incentives such as paying back some of the taxes, cutting down some of the insurance, and this is a very good opportunity for investors and startups. Moreover, there are now six universities, and their campuses are ready to receive 10,000 students in the New Capital. So, when we talk about the opportunities, there is a huge demand of services for investors.

There are many mega projects and new cities in development in the region and around the world. What are your competitive advantages? What makes this project completely different and unique?

Let’s first talk about the country. Any new business, investor, or developer is looking at making projections that will raise the business for 10 to 20 years. In Egypt, we have a special kind of business compared to other countries. The population increases by 2.5% every year. That is 2.5 million inhabitants minimum per year. This is a very big challenge, a very big opportunity for any kind of business to solve. For anybody who wants to invest in Egypt, they can do 10 to 15 years of projection for work according to the sector, because there is a real demand in all sectors, from residential to services. This demand and this challenge are the biggest incentives that make Egypt more attractive for investors. There is also a lot of cheap skilled labor, so doing business here is much cheaper than any other country. We have many airports and ports around the New Capital, only 50 kilometers away. This is a prime location and a perfect opportunity for investors.

What are the plans and timelines for the project to be listed on the stock market?

We consider the New Capital the biggest development in the world. There is no company in the world that owns 250,000 feddan like ACUD does. We have zero debt in the banks. We are financially very strong. We cannot manage all this on our own, so we are going to have some subsidiary companies for the infrastructure and are therefore negotiating with international partners all over the world, from Germany, from the States, from Europe, for the infrastructure, wastewater, electricity, etc. We are working with other international companies to partner for investments. We have lots of opportunities here such as entertainment, parking, etc. With these international investors and partners who start up business here, we can share the land, the equity, because as a company we need to invest now in those sectors. We expect to go to the stock market within a year because we need to increase the shareholders and interest of the investors in this kind of business. We are going to initiate some companies by the first quarter of next year. By mid-2024 we can see some of our subsidiaries in the stock market and available through acquisition.

What strategies are you implementing for green development and being environmentally conscious?

New Capital is a smart, sustainable city. We are targeting a zero-carbon governmental district where 30% of its electricity is generated from solar panels. All the lights are green. The footprint of the district is only between 20 to 25% while the rest is landscape. We are equipping the streets with the necessary equipment to control the noise and carbon emission. From day one, we have been planning to have a sustainable city that uses solar energy. In our building regulations, 30% of the electricity should be produced from solar panels. One of the biggest projects in the coming year is to have 1 million square meters of solar panels on 50% of the roofs of the buildings in Phase 1. We are using RTU for our water pipes and infrastructure to reduce waste and all water will be recycled. We have tried our best to be sustainable by using all smart infrastructure solutions.

What is your three to five year outlook for the New Administrative Capital?

I hope that in five years’ time, we manage to change the quality of life in Egypt. I hope that we will see the real meaning of sustainability in technology, the green areas, most of our mass transportation will be electrical. My dream in five years is for the New Capital to set the model for every city in the world: smart, sustainable, green, quality of life.

What is your inspiration? What drives you to do what you do?

I love to see other people happy. I want to put in my records that I achieved something for my country, for the people. This is a great thing for me. I am trying to do my best. Before, I was the Deputy Minister of Housing for National Projects, and I was responsible for all the new cities across Egypt. We had lots of successes in the new cities, not just financially since most of our new cities like the New Capital are self-financed and this is happening in a country that suffers budget deficit. Every day, I am dreaming of what am I going to do tomorrow, what we can add, and how we can make the people happier. This is the dream. But you cannot have a dream without a target, without a plan. To make the dream become reality, you have to have a target, you have to have a plan and you have to put KPIs for yourself and keep checking those KPIs.


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