Egypt’s Matrouh governorate prepares to put all projects proposed during the economic conference—dubbed as “Matrouh, The Future of Investment” and held in October 2015—to force within three months, Matrouh Governor Alaa Abu Zeid announced during an interview with Daily News Egypt.
Does the governorate intend to organise a second economic conference in the coming period after the first conference succeeded to attract investment of more than EGP 100bn?
We will not hold another economic conference until we complete the implementation of all the projects of the first economic conference in Matrouh, of which three have already been launched so far. We also expect the launch of a tourism and real-estate project in the Foka area in Dabaa, while other projects will come into force sequentially within 2-3 months.
It is scheduled that the first phase of the Maxim tourism project will be inaugurated in June, at a cost of EGP 14bn in the Sidi Abdel Rahman area. About 45% of the construction works of the first phase has been completed.
The awarding contracts of the economic conference projects were signed in July, received all required approvals from the related authorities, and were incorporated into the strategic plan of the state.
What are the main obstacles facing investors and the role of the governorate in overcoming them?
I feel pity for the investors willing to come to Egypt for investment. When I visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for marketing the Matrouh economic conference and offered investment opportunities in the governorate, the Emirati side was surprised by the idea of marketing the governorate. During the visit, I suggested applying the single-window system to facilitate the required measures for investors. We now have many foreign investors wanting to implement new projects in Matrouh governorate.
I suggested making a map of potential investment opportunities in each governorate and the nature of these projects in order to attract investors to establish new projects in Egypt, since investment became the only resort for Egypt—especially after the recent problems of remittances and the decline of tourism, as well as the shortage of foreign currency. So we should offer investment incentives to encourage investors.
What is the size of the investment plan of Matrouh for the current fiscal year?
The Matrouh investment plan for fiscal year (FY) 2016/2017 amounted to EGP 550m, which were directed to development, service, and infrastructure projects in the eight towns of the governorate.
The investment plan of the governorate in FY 2014/2015 reached EGP 75m.
What are the developments of the establishment of the new artisan zone?
We are working to provide the necessary funding for the establishment of the new artisan zone affiliated with the Ministry of Industry. The new zone will be built on an area of 112,000sqm and located at Kilometer 9 on the coastal road, so as to be away from the residential areas. The artisan workshops would include car maintenance, trade, and blacksmiths. The first phase of the project costs about EGP 10m—financed by the Ministry of Industry. The new zone is to be implemented over two phases at a total cost of EGP 20m. The cost of the project is based on supply and demand mechanisms, as we cannot spend EGP 40-50m to establish new workshops without fully exploiting them.
How many lands were withdrawn from non-serious investors recently?
The governorate has not withdrawn any land from investors during the last two years, as we work to eliminate obstacles facing investors and help them finish their projects.
During the evaluation of the investment proposals, we take into account the identity of the investors, their previous work, and financial solvency, in collaboration with the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) to avoid the withdrawal of land from investors.
Are there any projects held by the governorate in partnership with the private sector?
No, but we are studying the establishment of a dates factory in Siwa with a company specialised in this field and other investors using a usufruct system. The governorate will receive part of the profit, and the investor will take over the factory’s management, operation, and maintenance, as it was stalled for more than 10 years, being rehabilitated by the UAE’s side. It is scheduled to receive the factory by the end of February or early March.
Siwa has about 700,000 palm trees, which produce 84,000 tons of dates, with an average of 120kg per palm.
What is the size of the governorate’s unused fixed assets?
The governorate includes three unused assets, including the land of a cinema complex, a dates factory, and the El Salam market, with an investment value of about EGP 100m. Those assets have not been used for a period of 10-12 years in spite of being ready for usage, but they stopped, and the governorate works to attract investors to re-launch them.
The El Salam market was established in 2009 at a cost of EGP 9m, but it has not been exploited. We also launched the Safir hypermarket and signed the contracts of the project using a usufruct system for 25 years. The new hypermarket is planned to provide 300 job opportunities for the residents of Matrouh, with salaries ranging from EGP 3,000 to EGP 4,000.
Cinema Rim was also closed for many years, but we have recently launched the cinema complex beside a new under-construction mall and hotel.
The dates factory was established in Siwa, but it has not been delivered or operated due to technical flaws in the machines. The factory has been rehabilitated recently to provide more than 120 job opportunities.
What is the value of investment projects scheduled to be implemented in the current year?
The upcoming investment projects worth more than EGP 150bn, including industrial, agricultural, recreational, and service projects, as they are not limited to tourism, as some people claim.
The governorate takes into account several points before the establishment of investment projects, including the development of all towns in the governorate, which has a maximum population of 500,000—although it is the second largest governorate in the country. We also take into account that all towns get benefit from the projects to prevent the internal immigration from one town to another searching for jobs.
For example, El Alamein has the largest economic activities in the governorate due to the continuous development and tourist projects. Therefore, we need to balance the distribution of projects and provide jobs for all the residents of Matrouh, the Nile valley, and the Delta region.
What are the most prominent projects in the governorates?
There are some major projects, including Entertainment World Company’s project built on an area of 1,300 acres in Matrouh. The project includes an open desert zoo and a water park, and it also includes a group of hotels and a hospital.
There are also agricultural and livestock projects in Siwa, as well as Korean IMG Company’s projects to establish three sewage plants in Marsa Matrouh, Siwa, and El Alamein. The Emirati Bin Haider Real Estate Company and the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Company (SATCO) also have some projects to develop the Ageeba and Rommel beach areas, through the establishment of hotels, chalets, restaurants, and a dancing fountain.
The governorate has signed with Wadi Degla Company the contracts for establishing a hotel in the Shabib area in Dabaa two weeks ago. It is scheduled to build the planned hotel on an area of 116 acres—with an investment cost of EGP 855m—within a period of three years.
The hotel would include 1,316 rooms and 316 villas, in addition to a water desalination station, sewage and power plants, swimming pools, playgrounds, and sports services. The project is expected to provide 1,000 temporary jobs during its implementation and 700 permanent jobs.
What is Siwa’s share of the development plan in the province?
The first and second International Festival for Egyptian Dates were held in Siwa in cooperation with the UAE, which also signed a protocol with the governorate to establish five schools in Siwa, one of which is an agricultural high school.
The protocol includes the establishment of a solar power plant with a capacity of 10 megawatts and two electricity-generating units with a capacity of 10.4 megawatts at a cost of EGP 30m.
In addition, Bakka Company for Building and Construction implemented a number of agricultural and investment projects in Siwa, including a fish farm, an olive tree farm, and a factory for producing olive oil.
Al-Sanabel Company for Poultry and Agricultural Investment launched a project to produce all types of salt, while Delta for Agricultural Development has established a water filling station.
What are the total job opportunities provided by the governorate over the past year?
The governorate provided more than 9,500 jobs in all towns during 2016.