April 13, 2009
2009 APTA - TRB Light Rail Conference Issue
Egypt: Infrastructure Opportunities Amid Challenges
By JESSICA BECHIR, APTA Program Manager-International Programs
“People will invest in what they can see and feel: infrastructure…There is no sustainable growth without transportation,” Mohamed Mansour, Egypt’s minister of transport since 2005, told a March 24 luncheon in Washington, DC, hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham) and The Business Council for International Understanding. In attendance were U.S. and Egyptian government representatives including Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S., as well as staff members of think tanks, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector.
Mansour focused his on massive growth in his nation’s rail sector. The Egyptian National Railroad has committed to breaking even after the recent investment of $3.5 billion by the government, he said, with plans to increase rolling stock, convert stations into shopping malls to generate revenue, and finance capital expenses on their own.
He noted that Cairo currently has two subway lines and a third under construction, built by French and Japanese companies; this newest line will cross the Nile River in two spots and cover 21 miles with 29 stations.
Mansour encouraged U.S. contractors of any type—from electrification to signage, Intelligent Transportation Systems, and design and engineering firms—to create an alliance with an Egyptian organization and start breaking into the market, noting that opportunities exist for businesses of all sizes and calling the situation “a win-win for all.” He explained that even though money is tight in many parts of the world are, spending is still going on in Egypt.
According to Mansour, the infrastructure and transport sector in Egypt has recently attracted $3.5 billion in foreign direct investment, and should continue to grow under a proactive government that strives to create opportunities amid challenges. As in any country, he said, infrastructure is the backbone of Egypt’s economy, enabling export opportunities, creating jobs, and facilitating daily life.
Also during his U.S. visit, Mansour met with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, other representatives of the Obama Administration, and members of Congress.
Organizations interested in doing business in Egypt can find more information on the AmCham web site or by contacting Jessica Bechir.