25 Achievements Since 25 January 2011: Egypt Better Today

Since the Revolution of 25 January 2011, much has changed in Egypt. On the fifth anniversary of the Revolution, this blog post compiles 25 of the most important achievements realised over the past five years. It is the culmination of a five-day campaign by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and seeks to highlight the main facts and figures relevant to five main areas, namely: increasing political rights and participation, reclaiming Egypt’s regional and international roles, embracing diversity, empowering youth and taking strides towards achieving social justice.

A) Political Rights and Participation

During the past five years, Egypt has witnessed unprecedented participation in the political sphere by the Egyptian public, after they reclaimed their right to shape their own destiny in the wake of the revolution of January the 25th. This political process has resulted in Egypt’s 2014 constitution, the most liberal in Egypt’s history and which embodies the hopes and aspirations of the Egyptian people, as well as the election of balanced, solid state institutions that enjoy legitimacy.

 

1st Achievement: 2014 Constitution

 

Following a referendum which witnessed the highest voter turnout in the history of Egyptian referendums (38%, with more than 20 million voters casting their ballots), a new constitution was approved by an overwhelming

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Figure 2: Egypt’s 2014 Constitutional Referendum Results

98.1% of those who voted. This constitution contains ground-breaking provisions to secure the rights of the Egyptian people. It bans torture “in all its forms and manifestations” and considers it “a crime with no statute of limitations.” (Article 52) It also prohibits and criminalizes “any forms of forced slavery, servitude, oppression, exploitation of human beings, sex trafficking and other forms of human trafficking.” (Article 89) Additionally, the constitution stipulates that the state must abide by all human rights treaties signed by Egypt (Article 93). Furthermore, The right to freedom of speech through writing, speech, imagery, or any other means of expression, and the right to freedom of assembly, are guaranteed and protected in the constitution; the right and freedom of artists, writers, and filmmakers to create is also safeguarded, as is the freedom of scientific research (Article 65, 66, 67).

2nd Achievement: Checks and Balances in Egypt’s 2014 Constitution

To ensure that checks and balances are present in the Egyptian political system, the new constitution, for the first time in Egypt’s history, allows the House of Representatives to move for impeaching the President with a two-thirds majority vote following an investigation by the Public Prosecutor (Article 159). It also allows for a confidence vote which, with a two-thirds majority vote, can trigger a public referendum on early presidential elections (Article 161). In another historical first, the House of Representatives also has a vote of confidence over the government. It has the power to reshuffle the cabinet, dismiss the Prime Minister, and withdraw its confidence. If it disapproves of the President’s choice of government, it may form a new one.

3rd Achievement: 2014 Presidential Elections

In May 2014, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was elected as the President of Egypt with a 96.9% landslide, in elections that witnessed a 47.5% voter turnout. He assumed office on the 8th of June, 2014. The elections were monitored by 8 international and regional inter-governmental organizations, as well as more than 80 non-governmental organizations. This amounted to a total of 1000 foreign observers and more than 15,500 Egyptian observers. The elections were also supervised by Egypt’s High Election Committee, composed of senior judges, ensuring their integrity and fairness. According to Egypt’s 2014 Constitution, the President shall be elected for a period of four calendar years (instead of 6 years in the 1971 constitution), and may only be reelected once.

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Figure 3 Egypt’s 2014 Presidential election in numbers

4th Achievement: Parliamentary Elections

Completing the final phase of the political “Road Map”, Egypt’s new parliament was elected in November-December 2015 and convened its inaugural session on 10 January 2016. 44 political parties participated in the elections, 19 of which succeeded in securing seats in Parliament. These parties represent all shades of the political spectrum, from the Islamist Al-Nour to the leftist bloc (including the Arab Democratic Nasserist Party, El-Tagammu’ (the National Progressive Unionist Party), the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and the Popular Socialist Alliance). The new electoral system is based on two different mechanisms of majoritarian electoral systems: political parties competed for 120 seats under winner-takes-all party lists, while individual candidates competed for 448 individual seats. 28 members were appointed by the President. This new system guarantees adequate representation of the popular will, while simultaneously encouraging strong party organization. Moreover, article 244 of Egypt’s 2014 Constitution guaranteed seats for women, Christians, farmers and workers, youth (aged 25 to 35 years), persons with disabilities, and expatriates within the party lists component. This has provided more opportunities for women and other groups that were traditionally under-represented, making this parliament the most diverse in Egypt’s history.

5th Achievement: Expatriate’s right to vote

The right of Egyptian expatriates to vote is considered an important achievement of the revolution of January the 25th. Before then, Egyptians abroad had never been able to participate in elections from their countries of residence. Egyptian expatriates have, for the first time in their history, voted in all successive parliamentary and presidential elections conducted after the 25th January Revolution. This right is guaranteed by Egypt’s current Constitution, in order to ensure equality among all citizens at home and abroad. Granting Egyptian expatriates the right to vote was not the only achievement. The Egyptian Constitution of 2014, in Article 244, acknowledged that the state should work to represent Egyptians abroad adequately in the House of Representatives. This has already been achieved in Egypt’s new parliament, which held its inaugural session days ago with 8 deputies representing Egyptian expatriates.

B) Reclaiming Egypt’s Regional & International Roles

Egypt’s strategic geographic position, located at the crossroads between Africa and Asia, and linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, has placed it historically at the epicenter of the global contest for geo-strategic power. Over the past five years, Egypt’s immediate geographical vicinity has been overcome with crises that have shaken the region, threatening the very existence of some states. Preserving Egypt’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independent decision-making capacity has therefore been an utmost priority of Egypt’s government, which has adopted a proactive, independent and energetic foreign policy in order to address existing threats to Egypt’s national security. Following the revolution of January the 25th and its demands for independent decision-making based on national interest in Egyptian foreign policy, Egypt has also worked to expand its partnerships and achieve its national interest.

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Figure 4 Reclaiming Egypt’s regional and international roles (all pictures obtained from Al-Ahram Weekly)

6th Achievement: Expanding African Ties

In light of Egypt’s strong historical relations with African states and its role as one of the founding members of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union), revitalizing Egypt’s ties with Africa has assumed utmost priority since the 25 January revolution. Egypt’s 2014 Constitution emphasizes Egypt’s African roots and identity. In July 2014, the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) was established to strengthen Egypt’s developmental role in Africa, reflecting the government’s commitment to supporting African development efforts according to African priorities. The EAPD’s main focus areas include supporting economic integration between Egypt and African countries, as well as strengthening South-South cooperation on the basis of the respect for national sovereignty. Egypt is also committed to enhancing African solidarity and mutual benefit in the economic sphere; Egypt recently hosted the Tripartite Summit in June 2015, which gathered member states of the COMESA, SADC, and EAC, with the aim of establishing a Free Trade Area encompassing 26 countries. Egypt is also set to host the Investment in Africa Forum in February 2016, to further boost development and cooperation in the continent.

At the bilateral level, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s “Summit Diplomacy” and bilateral visits to Africa in 2015 have demonstrated Egypt’s desire to consolidate ties with African states, including the Nile basin states. Relations with Ethiopia witnessed a profound transformation after President Al-Sisi’s historic visit to Ethiopia in March 2015, and his speech to the Ethiopian parliament. This culminated in the signing of the Tripartite Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. This is in addition to numerous visits to African countries by Egypt’s Foreign Ministers since 25 January 2011, underscoring Egypt’s desire to strengthen ties with Africa.

Egypt’s cooperation with Africa is established according to the priorities of African countries and is based on mutual interests and win-win situations. It includes fostering human resources development, providing technical assistance and capacity building. In April 2015, Egypt’s Prime Minister established an inter-ministerial committee to develop relations with African states, in order to guarantee the continued growth and sustainability of these ties.

7th Achievement: Maintaining Foreign Policy Independence

The independence of Egyptian decision-making has been achieved through maintaining multiple foreign policy alternatives and options. Essentially, Egypt’s foreign policy is now driven by Egypt’s national interests. Faced with the threat against its national security and its citizens’ security in Libya, Egypt responded in February 2015 by launching airstrikes against Daesh targets there. Simultaneously, Egypt has supported the political process in Libya and the role of the UN envoy, participating in all rounds of dialogue between Libyan parties, and sponsoring a number of meetings of Libyan tribes. Egypt has similarly played a pro-active role in Syria, Gaza, Yemen and Iraq. Increasingly, our partners within and outside the region have come to see the soundness and accuracy of Egypt’s position on these regional issues.

Maintaining our foreign policy independence also necessitates building strong, independent institutions at home and decreasing dependence on others in the long run. For this reason, Egypt has taken important strides towards developing its energy independence through turning towards renewable sources of energy, such as solar energy, wind power and nuclear energy. The aim is to supply 20 % of Egypt’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2022. The New Suez Canal Project has been inaugurated, financed exclusively through domestic resources. Egypt also enhanced the exploration and production of oil and gas, leading to an important discovery of a huge natural gas field in the Mediterranean in 2015, which could reverse our position from net importers to next exporters of energy in the near future. Coupled with legal and fiscal reforms, and the consolidation of strong state institutions these measures will allow Egypt to maintain its autonomy enhance its regional and global influence.

8th Achievement: More Balanced and Diverse Partnerships

One of the key foreign policy successes achieved in the years following the revolution of January 25th was the adoption of a more balanced foreign policy. While long-standing partnerships and relations have remained as important as ever, Egypt has taken steps to develop relations with partners that had previously not been given the priority they deserve. Since January 2011, Egypt has expanded its ties with Africa, revitalized relations with Asian countries, and established greater cooperation with Eastern European countries. While relations with the West have continued to develop, Egypt has expanded its horizons, as reflected in various Presidential visits conducted and memoranda of understanding signed with countries such as India, Singapore, Indonesia, Hungary, as well the establishment of a trilateral cooperation mechanism with Greece and Cyprus.

Among the partnerships that have witnessed significant advancement is Egypt’s relationship with China, with which Egypt now enjoys a comprehensive strategic partnership; trade between the two countries has reached USD11 billion, and China is a key investor in Egyptian developmental projects, most notably in the Suez Canal Development project. President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi has conducted two visits to China in the last two years, which were reciprocated by President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Cairo. Relations with Russia have similarly witnessed a substantial leap forward in the years following the revolution of January the 25th, as reflected by reciprocal Presidential visits in the past couple of years, as well as the adoption of the 2+2 (Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs) format for strategic dialogue, and the significant agreements that were signed in multiple fields, most notably energy. Egypt also enjoys close military ties with Russia.

9th Achievement: Security Council Membership

Egypt’s election to a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council in 2015, with wide support from the General Assembly, is one of the most important achievements of Egyptian diplomacy since January 25, 2011, reflecting the international community’s support for Egypt and its role in maintaining international peace and security and promoting African, Arab and developing world causes inside the Council. Egypt has been recently selected to head three specialized committees in the Security Council, namely the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the UN Sanctions Committees Concerning both the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq. Egypt has become a partner among 15 states that carry the burden of preserving peace and security at the international level. Egypt’s priorities are Arab and African issues, combating terrorism, and conflict resolution in the Middle East, as well as the Palestinian cause. Egypt is the only Arab state in the council at a time in which the region faces difficult situations in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Egypt will work through its membership in the council to protect Arab interests and present constructive solutions to African and Arab crises.

10th Achievement: Combating International Terrorism

As the threat of terrorism has grown in recent years, Egypt has stepped up to the challenge, standing at the frontline of the regional and international fight against terrorism. Since the revolution of January the 25th, Egypt has witnessed a concerted campaign by terrorists and extremists belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups to undermine the Egyptian identity and serve an insidious transnational agenda targeting the nation-state in the region. The Egyptian people have succeeded in foiling their efforts and greatly diminishing their threat. This unique experience has allowed Egypt to become one of the leaders of the global war against terrorism. We continue to cooperate with regional and global partners to fight terrorist activities and the radical ideologies that lead to them. Egypt is an integral member of the anti-Daesh coalition, as it is home to Al-Azhar and Dar Al-Ifta’, the global bastions of moderate Islamic thinking, and through them Egypt provides the coalition with the necessary ideological resources to combat the roots of terrorism and radicalization. Recently, Egypt became the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council, which will give Egypt a pivotal role in fighting terrorism. ‬

C) Embracing Diversity

Egyptian society is characterized by its diversity, and one of the most memorable and commendable aspects of the revolution of January the 25th was that all Egyptians stood side by side regardless of gender, religion, or any other factor, voicing their common demands and caring for one another. This display of solidarity has inspired Egyptian society to take steps to further embrace its diversity throughout the past five years, despite the challenges that presented themselves.

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Figure 5 Embracing diversity (all pictures obtained from Al-Ahram Weekly)

11th Achievement: Religious Tolerance & Co-existence

The post-25 January 2011 Egypt is one where all citizens are equal before the law and where peaceful tolerance and coexistence between all citizens are officially promoted as a matter of state policy. This has been an important achievement of post-revolutionary Egypt, which has managed to overcome the brief period of endangered rights and violence endured by Egyptian Christians and other religious groups during the Brotherhood’s tenure in 2012-13, and in the immediate aftermath of their removal from power. Today, an unprecedented 36 Coptic Christians are members of Egypt’s parliament, including one Coptic woman who became the first ever to contest and win an individual seat (rather than join parliament through a party-list, quota or by appointment). Egypt’s 2014 Constitution recognizes and celebrates the diversity of Egyptian society and enshrines the freedom of religion of citizens belonging to different religious groups. Article 1 of the Constitution states clearly that the republican system in Egypt is “based on citizenship and the rule of law”, while the preamble recognizes Egypt as the cradle of religions, where the Jewish Prophet Moses received his divine Revelation and where the Virgin Mary and newborn baby Jesus were given shelter. It also recognises that Egypt “offered thousands of martyrs in defense of the Church of Jesus, Peace Be Upon Him”. Article 2 states in no uncertain terms that Egyptian Christian and Jewish citizens have the right to follow their own religious laws in the area of “personal status, religious affairs and the selection of spiritual leaders”. All citizens are equal before the law, without any discrimination based on religion or other grounds (article 53), while “freedom of belief is absolute” (article 64).

The Constitution goes even further than most modern democratic constitutions by establishing that discrimination and incitement to hatred are crimes punishable by law, and provides for the creation of an independent commission to implement this provision (article 53). This guarantees important legal protection to Egypt’s citizens of all religions, but in particular Egypt’s Christian citizens, who have been targeted by the Brotherhood and their supporters. Article 19 guarantees the promotion of the values of “equal citizenship, tolerance and non-discrimination” in education, paving the way for future generations to play a role in promoting pluralism. The Constitution also embodies another significant achievement for Egyptian Christians, which is the right to establish places of worship, an important demand of theirs for decades. Article 235 stipulates that the House of Representatives shall issue in its first legislative term, “a law to regulate constructing and renovating churches, in a manner that guarantees the freedom to practice religious rituals for Christians”. In practice, the state has also played a prominent role in rebuilding and restoring Churches and their facilities destroyed by Brotherhood violence; so far, 22 Churches have been restored. Furthermore, President Sisi attended the Coptic Christmas Mass in 2013, the first Egyptian president ever to do so, and during his speech, he vowed to rebuild all Churches and homes affected by Brotherhood violence in 2013.

12th Achievement: Renewing Religious Discourse

In the global context of rising religious tensions, the Egyptian model represents what is perhaps one of most successful models of religious tolerance and coexistence in the world. As such, Egypt has taken the initiative in calling for a “religious revolution” to ensure that religious discourse is reformed to dissipate tensions and counter radicalism and extremism.

In light of Egypt’s unique experience over the past five years, President Sisi addressed the issue of religious discourse in January 2015 in a speech commemorating the birth of prophet Mohamed. The President of Egypt took the bold step of acknowledging that Islamic religious discourse needed renewal, calling for “revamping religious speech in accordance with the tolerant Islamic religion” in a manner that “preserves the values of true Islam, eliminating sectarian polarization and addressing extremism and militancy.” Al-Azhar and Dar Al-Ifta, the global centers of moderate Islamic thought, have taken up the President’s initiatives, and are working on the local, regional, and global levels to promote the true, moderate values of Islam through religious envoys, international conferences, and participation in counter-extremism efforts, while at the same time constantly reviewing discourse and engaging in dialogue. While much work remains to be done in this field, the initiation of the process of renewing religious discourse is a necessary and momentous step towards eliminating extremism and realizing coexistence and religious tolerance on a global level.

13th Achievement: Empowering Women

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Figure 6 Women’s Achievements since 25 January 2011

Egyptian women were at the forefront of the 25 January revolution, standing hand in hand with their male counterparts in Tahrir Square as equal partners. Since then, Egyptian women have witnessed many achievements in both the public and private sphere, in spite of a significant setback during the Brotherhood’s year in power. Today, Egyptian women comprise almost 15% of Egypt’s new Parliament, having contested the parliamentary elections both as individual candidates and under the party lists component. This is unprecedented in Egypt’s history. One of the main reasons behind this success was Egypt’s 2014 Constitution, which establishes in article 244 a women’s quota for political parties contesting the elections under the party-lists component. Two-thirds of women who ran as individual candidates in the parliamentary elections succeeded, indicating a gradual shift in perceptions regarding the political role of women. The 2014 Constitution also granted women a 25 % quota in municipal councils. This guarantees the membership of around 13,000 women in these councils.

The past five years witnessed many other “firsts” for Egyptian women: a woman was appointed for the first time to head a municipality in June 2015, while another woman was appointed, also for the first time, to the position of Assistant Minister of Justice in September of the same year. In 2014, the first woman ever was elected to head an Egyptian political party. President Sisi’s National Security Advisor is a woman, while three women were appointed as deputy governors. At the legislative level, new legislation was adopted criminalizing sexual harassment and introducing penalties of up to six years’ imprisonment and LE 50,000 in fines for perpetrators of verbal, physical, behavioral, phone or online sexual harassment. In addition, the Ministry of Interior established a new “violence against women” department within the Ministry, as well as specialized units in all police departments, in order to provide women with necessary protection.

14th Achievement: Empowering people with disabilities

Over the past five years, persons with disabilities have made important gains in terms of promoting the legal recognition of their rights and making their voices heard. After the 25 January 2011 revolution, Egypt established the National Council for Disability Affairs with the mandate of advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, raising awareness, participating in drafting national policies for integration and rehabilitation and receiving individual complaints regarding violations of the rights of persons with disabilities. Egypt’s newly-elected parliament also includes nine persons with disabilities, eight of them elected and one among the 28 presidential appointees, ensuring that they have a voice in the nation’s legislative process.

Persons with disabilities participated, on an equal footing, in the Assembly that drafted the 2014 Constitution. For this reason, the Constitution provides an significant and unmatched framework for guaranteeing the rights of persons with disabilities, including banning discrimination on the basis of disability (article 53) and guaranteeing adequate representation for persons with disabilities in parliament (article 244), as well as municipal councils (article 180). The 2014 Constitution also provides that the “State shall ensure the rights of children with disabilities, their rehabilitation and their integration in society” (article 80). It also provides a clear commitment by the state to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities and short-stature in health care and in the areas of political empowerment, economic, social and cultural rights, entertainment, sports and education. This includes the allocation of employment quotas, with a 5% quota in the public sector (article 81). The unprecedented activism of members of the disabilities rights movement in Egypt over the past five years, and their brave demands for their rights, has resulted in greater legal protections and empowerment for millions of persons with disabilities in Egypt.

15th Achievement: Geographically Diverse Developmental Efforts

In the wake of the revolution of January the 25th and its calls for all Egyptians to reap the benefits of development, efforts to foster development have been expanded to bestow further benefits on Egyptians in different areas across the country. The Golden Triangle Project is perhaps the embodiment of the renewed determination to ensure that development reaches all corners of Egypt. The project aims to create new industrial and mining projects in 6,000 square kilometers extending from the Red Sea cities of Safaga and Al-Qusayr to Eastern Qena in Upper Egypt, and is currently underway. It will result in new urban communities, as well as several new cities on the Qaft-Al Qusayr Road floodplain. Industrial projects set for implementation will also develop the industrial zones in the governorates of Qena, Sohag, and Red Sea. The Suez Canal Development Project, which aims to expand the Canal and create an economic hub in the Suez area and has already seen significant progress, is another extensive developmental project being carried out in Egypt’s peripheral areas. Other projects such as Al-Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant, and the Investment Conference which was held in Marsa Matrouh, will extend development and investment to the North Coast of Egypt, while a development project in Sinai intended to improve the sectors of housing, road construction, agriculture, and education has been initiated.

D) Empowering Youth

The revolution of January the 25th was notable for the leading role played by Egypt’s youth in calling for change. It was the vision and the demands of the youth that started Egypt on the path of progress it has taken over the past five years, and as such, they are an integral part of the transformation that Egypt is undergoing. Today Egypt’s youth have taken strides forward towards their goals. They have become more involved and active in political, social, and economic affairs.

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Figure 7 Measures to empower youth since 25 January 2011

16th Achievement: Youth representation in state institutions

Among the major factors that prompted Egyptian youth to take to the streets in January 2011 was the feeling of exclusion from the political process. Five years on, nearly 10% of Egypt’s current parliament is comprised of youth under the age of 35. In addition, the past five years have witnessed a surge in the number of young Egyptians in official positions, particularly as Assistants to Ministers, and the current Presidential Advisory Committees contain a large number of youth.

17th Achievement: The Presidential Leadership Program

Within the framework of empowering youth and encouraging their leadership role in various fields, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi launched the presidential program for leadership in September 2015, which aims to prepare young leaders who are capable of managing and assuming responsibility and leadership positions, by training them according to modern management methods. The program targets young people between 20 and 30 years of age, and is expected to train 2500 young men and women annually during the first phase, a number to be increased in the coming phases of the project.

The vision of the program rests on the need to create a strong and rich base of talented youth who are eligible to hold political, administrative and societal responsibilities, by training them on the latest theories in management, scientific and practical planning, as well as strengthening their ability to apply modern methods to confront the problems and fundamental challenges facing the Egyptian state. The program also seeks to broaden the base of youth participation in state administration, thus qualifying thousands of young people to take up leadership positions to strengthen state institutions, by creating calibers who are capable of improving the level of performance, as well as upgrading cultural and political awareness among youth, in addition to providing the space for direct communication between the state and hundreds of thousands of young people.

The program does not stipulate any difficult criteria for application, requiring only Egyptian citizenship, a lack of criminal record, a higher-education degree, and a willingness to learn.

18th Achievement: Expanding Youth Employment Opportunities

The main demands of the 25 January revolution were “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice”. Over the past five years, Egypt has worked hard towards fulfilling these demands, including through providing better economic opportunities for Egypt’s youth. Before the revolution, Egypt did not have a clear and comprehensive official strategy for youth employment. As a new priority for post-revolutionary Egypt, the government is now strongly focused not only on job creation for young people, but equally on supporting youth entrepreneurial activities.

In 2013, the government announced an “Urgent Plan to Activate the Egyptian Economy and Establish Social Justice”. Through this plan, it provided USD 8.7 billion (2% of GDP) in public investment (particularly in infrastructure projects such as the construction of roads, drinking water and sewage networks) as well as social programs. The project aims to stimulate the economy and raise standards of living, which is projected to indirectly generate employment, particularly in the construction sector. In 2014, Egypt launched the “Egyptian Forum for the Promotion of Youth Employment”, which aims to address youth unemployment through coordinating policies between different stakeholders. That same year, Egypt’s Social Fund for Development signed an agreement with the World Bank to provide a four-year “Emergency Labour Intensive Investment Project”. In 2015, the Egyptian government launched a national initiative to create jobs for youth in all governorates, called “Your Project” (Mashrou’ak). The project will allow youth to establish small and medium enterprises in a number of sectors. The Ministry of Local Development began implementing the first phase of the project with approximately EGP 3 billion in investments, to be invested in 11 governorates. In May 2015, another 1,000 projects were approved under this initiative.

19th Achievement: “Year of Youth” projects for 2016

Recognizing the pivotal role played by youth in achieving development, and the consequent necessity of providing them with the appropriate environment to work, President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi announced during his speech inaugurating the “Knowledge Bank” project that 2016 would be the year of youth. The President announced several social, economic, developmental and economic projects aimed at youth. One of these projects entails that the banking sector will allocate LE200 billion in the coming four years to support youth projects, while loans for projects will offer lenient terms, stipulating no more that 5% interest for projects undertaken by young people. Another is the directive to build 145,000 housing units throughout the current year as part of the social housing for youth program, and to conclude the building of 244,000 units that are already under construction, in order to move forward in alleviating housing problems and provide jobs for those who will participate in the building process. Part of the “million fedans” project has also been allocated to youth for ownership, and the government will work to make it easier for youth to take advantage of government funding programs.

Regarding students, a specialized national committee will be formed, comprised of all relevant ministries and research councils, to renovate curriculums for all levels of education, to bring them in line with modern research pertaining to education.

20th Achievement: Youth in the 2014 Constitution

To reflect the more comprehensive inclusion of youth into Egyptian public life in the past few years, the 2014 constitution includes articles that enshrine the rights and role of youth. Article 82 of the constitution guarantees that the state will “guarantee the provision of care to the youth and youngsters and shall endeavour to discover their talents; develop their cultural, scientific, psychological, physical and creative abilities, encourage their engagement in group and volunteer activities and enable them to participate in public life”, while Article 29 stipulates that the state shall “allocate a percentage of reclaimed lands to small farmers and youth graduates”. The constitution also guarantees adequate representation for youth, as Article 244 necessitates the state to ensure that youth are appropriately represented in parliament, while Article 180 states that one quarter of the seats in local councils shall be allocated to youth under thirty five (35) years of age.

E) Towards Social Justice & Economic Reform

Though significant challenges currently face both the Egyptian economy and the world economy as a whole, Egypt has taken steps in recent years to tackle the root of its economic maladies and ensure that there is greater equity in wealth distribution and opportunities. Perhaps the central demand of Egyptians in January 2011 was a better livelihood for all, and this has been reflected in the steps taken to overhaul the Egyptian economy over the past few years.

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21st Achievement: Support for Small and Medium Enterprises

Egypt started giving increased attention to supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) after the January 25 Revolution. The state realized that supporting such projects is of vital importance to the national economy, as they have a clear impact that directly affects citizens and their economic activities, which in turn boosts job opportunities and employment – primary demands of the 25 January revolution.

In response to the demands of the revolution to support such projects that generate employment, the banking sector in Egypt has pledged to inject EGP200 billion over the coming years to support youth projects to reduce unemployment. Moreover, the President instructed that soft loans be provided for youth SMEs, with an interest rate no higher than 5%. This should enhance the competitiveness of such projects and help them integrate more smoothly into the labor market. The government also launched initiatives to support SMEs, such as the “Mashrou’ak” project. Egypt’s economic recover and its achievement of higher growth and better ratings by international institutions reflected positively on Egyptian employment rates.

On the public sector front, one of the primary achievements of the January revolution came with the transformation of thousands of public sector worker temporary contracts into permanent ones. This improved these workers’ economic and living conditions after they had previously been unstable.

22nd Achievement: Subsidy Reform

Aiming to reduce the budget deficit, while ensuring that energy subsidies benefit those who need them most, a five-year plan to reform the structure of energy subsidies was unveiled by Egypt in 2014, with the aim of gradually phasing out all energy subsidies except for those in fuel products and electricity consumed by the poor, incorporating a system of smart cards.

The 2014/15 national budget cut spending on energy subsidies by almost a third ($6 billion) in order to move Egypt towards more efficient and responsible government spending which focuses expenditure on capital investment, public services. Reflecting this shift, the budgetary allocation in FY 2014/15 for health and education exceeded energy subsidies for the first time in many years. The subsidy reform plan will also allow Egypt to shifts incentives from capital-intensive economic activity toward more labor-intensive activity.

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Figure 8 Measures to promote social justice in post-revolutionary Egypt

23rd Achievement: Adopting a Minimum and Maximum Wage

Since the 25 January Revolution, Egypt has sought to reform the minimum wage, as well as impose a maximum wage for public sector employees, an important tool to address income and wealth inequality, promote social justice and strengthen the middle class. Following the revolution, Egypt’s National Wage Council (NWC) consulted with foreign and Egyptian experts to establish minimum and maximum wage rates that would achieve the demands of the revolution, while simultaneously maintaining competitiveness and attracting the necessary skills. As a result, the government adopted two unprecedented measures. First, it increased the minimum wage rate threefold from EGP 400 ($52) per month before the revolution, to EGP 1200 ($157) per month. This new minimum wage has benefited 4.9 million out of Egypt’s 7 million public sector employees.

Simultaneously, in 2014 two successive decrees by the President and the Cabinet set the maximum wage rate at EGP 42,000 ($5,500) per month for all public sector employees. This cap is equivalent to 35 times the minimum wage and has saved the government much-needed resources, which are now used to finance the new minimum wage. In addition to addressing social justice concerns and providing a decent life to all public sector employees, these two measures are intended to eradicate financial and administrative corruption, a major demand of the 25 January revolution. They therefore signal an important break with the past.

24th Achievement: Grand National Projects:

1.The New Suez Canal Project:

Egyptians succeeded in one year in completing the initial step for developing the Suez Canal region, through the drilling of a new channel with a length of 35 kilometers, with the deepening and expansion of the original canal areas up to 72 kilometers, as well as updating and adding advanced equipment in all sectors of the canal. The new canal helps in the direct non-stop transit of 45 vessels in both directions, and the transit of 97 ships per day, which increases canal revenues by 259% in 2023 to be 13.226 billion dollars compared to the current revenue of $ 5.3 billion, resulting in a direct positive impact on Egypt’s hard currency income. The project reduces the waiting time for ships to be 3 hours instead of 8 to 11 hours, which reduces the cost for ship owners, as well as raising the value of the Suez Canal, contributing to the increased demand for the use of the canal as a major international waterway.

2.The Suez Canal Axis Development Project:

The project provides a million jobs upon the completion of its initial phases, which is a leap forward for the national economy, where economists expect project revenue to reach $ 100 billion annually upon its completion. This project will play a major role in the re-urbanization and the geographic distribution of the population through integrated urban projects aimed at reclamation and cultivation of about 4 million acres.

3.The North West Coast Development Project:

The project coincides with the plan implemented by the government to demarcate the future borders of governorates, involving development and investment opportunities and the establishment of new urban communities to accommodate the expected population growth in the coming decades. This project is part of a government scheme for urban development that includes a series of national projects that are expected to generate about 11 million jobs until the year 2052.

4.The Nuclear Project:

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi witnessed on November 19 2015, the signing of several agreements with the Russian side in order to create a nuclear power plant in Dabaa’. The project includes the establishment of four nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes expected to produce 4,800 GB, two of which will be opened after 9 years, while the third and fourth reactors will be opened in the tenth year and the eleventh.

5.The project for the reclamation of one and a half million acres:

President Sisi launched in Farafra on December 30 2015 a project for the reclamation of “a million and a half million acres”. This is one of the state’s giant national projects and a pillar of “a step towards the future” program adopted by the State, which includes a large number of projects aimed at sustainable development.

6.Discovery of the largest natural gas field ‘Zohr’:

The announcement of the discovery of the largest gas field off the Egyptian coast of the eastern Mediterranean has assured confidence in the Egyptian economy, as well as the enthusiasm of foreign partners to invest in Egypt, in addition to reshaping the energy map in Egypt. This is one of the positive results of petroleum agreements that have been signed during the past two and a half years, which reached 56 agreements with a minimum investment of more than $ 13 billion. Zohr also opens up new horizons for further discoveries. The field is the largest since the discovery of gas in Egypt back in 1967, comprising an area of 100 square kilometers, and a depth of 1450 meters, with 30 trillion cubic feet equivalent to 5.5 billion barrels of oil.

7.The new administrative capital:

The basic plan is the establishment of a global city with a smart infrastructure for the future of Egypt, as this city will provide a multiplicity of economic opportunities as well as a distinctive quality of life.

Fig 9 Grand projects

Figure 9 Grand National Projects since 25 January 2011

25th Achievement: Combating Corruption

Combating corruption was an important demand of the revolution of January the 25th, and subsequently a national strategy to combat corruption was devised, with the aim of elevating the state administrative body and preserve public funds. The strategy enshrines a number of concepts, chief among them indiscriminate accountability.

Egypt also took practical steps to combat corruption, investigating and prosecuting all individuals who were implicated in acts of corruption, including high-ranking officials from previous regimes, and even the former Minister of Agriculture, who was prosecuted while he was in office in a corruption case.

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