7 Economic Ideas for a new Egypt

A lot of people complain that the government has no vision in regards to how to bounce back our economy, and is instead acting as if the revolution never happened and everything is Business as usual. For 4 months now I awaited a single decent economic plan, or even emergency economic measures (like temporary welfare packages to the lower classes to be able to feed itself until “stability” takes place, or a stimulus package to the small and medium size businesses to keep them afloat for a few months and not have to fire any people), but of course that’s as likely as them inspecting the old budget or trying to find where the public waste or corruption is in it, and cut those costs. In case you didn’t know, the new budget is like the old budget exactly, except that they are spending more money, and borrowing to cover it up, and not reducing the costs on anything. God knows that after reviewing our budget, I realized that if I was running a business the way the Egyptian government was running its finances, I would’ve been out of businesses years ago. That being said, expecting the government to come up with good plans is as likely as The Police starting to act like respectable responsible humans and go to work without abusing anyone: It’s not going to happen. So , instead of pointing out their flaws, which any idiot with a functioning brain can do, I will offer here some ideas of things we can do. This will cover a whole number of sectors, and the idea is to do more with what we already have and encourage that lost wheel of production to be found and to go round and round again. Let’s begin, shall we?

Idea # 1: LET’S PAY PEOPLE FOR THEIR TRASH!

Here is the concept in a nutshell: We live in a country of 85 million consumers, and they consume lots of goods and produce a huge amount of trash, many of which never gets recycled or used correctly, outside of Cairo’s Zabaleen community, which are the most brilliant people this country has in a while produced. But instead of being Cairo-focused, let’s go nationwide. Instead of people paying to have their trash collected, instead we will pay them money for their trash. We will provide trash cans everywhere that will divide the trash into organic and non-organic (with all of its variations) all over Egypt, and teach people how to separate their trash effectively. Then, once a week, the Trash cars come, and start paying people by the kilo for their trash, provided that they have separated it first. The trucks then leave to one of many huge factories that will be built all over Egypt, where the non-organic trash will be divided and recycled again into plastics, aluminum, papers, etc.. to be sold in the market to factories again, and the organic trash will be taken and processed to produce methane gas that will be turned into electricity that will power up the different production lines in the factory, which would reduce the energy needs of the factory dramatically or possibly eliminate it all together. Zero Waste! This idea will do the following : 1) Put money in the hands of all Egyptians for their trash, and actually give them incentive to pick up any litter anywhere in their neighborhoods, because, you know, there’s money to be made off of it now, 2) Hire thousands of workers- because this will be nationwide- who will drive the collection trucks, collect the trash and pay the people, re-separate the trash at the factory, man the recycling production lines, and sales people who will sell the recycled resources to the other factories or the people and 3) Make Egypt cleaner, reduce the horrible pollution from Trash burning and increase efficiency in the usage of our resources. And if you are worried on the business of the Zabaleen, don’t worry; we will simply subcontract Cairo to them. We won’t mess with their system; just integrate them into the cycle. I spoke to people in the IFC about this months ago, and they seemed really excited about the idea, but I don’t think it went anywhere. I am presenting it here again.

Idea #2: LET’S GET OUT OF CAIRO NOW!

I love Cairo. Well, I love Cairo at night. Like maybe from 10 pm till 4 am. The rest of the time, I am starting to hate Cairo: It’s a city overloaded with people (25 million residents, 1/3 of Egypt’s population almost) and Cars, and the centralization of all resources and business on the expense of the rest of the country has not benefitted anyone: The Cairo people are unhappy with how overpopulated and polluted their city is, and complain daily about the hellish traffic, and the rest of the country believes Cairo takes up all the economic development to itself. And the thing is, even when the Cairenes try to leave Cairo, they just go to 6 October or New Cairo, which are Cairo suburbs, and thus Cairo-centric as well, which now means that the traffic isn’t just in Cairo, it’s also facing anyone leaving Cairo, making Cairo a Blackhole of soul-sucking and misery. Let’s change that dramatically by moving entire industries to other areas of the country, and thus creating new cities, new pockets of development, and get people out of Cairo for good and for real this time (none of that 6th of October Crap). For example, let’s move the entire IT and technology industry to the North Coast, and build a huge IT and Technology focused city – our very own Silicon Valley- right behind all of those touristic villages that we only use 3 months a year. That whole area already has paved roads, communication lines, utilities connected to it for those touristic villages, so we will simply need to scale up the existing infrastructure instead of building it from scratch, and it will provide the restaurants, shops and clubs in the area of round the year customers. The IT people will love it, because it takes them out of the city and places them on the beach, the shop owners will love it because it will provide more sources of income for them, the population there will love it because it will mean more jobs whether in construction, factories or companies that will be erected, and the owners will love it because many of them will rent their property all year long instead of a measly 3 months, which will provide them with a higher return on their investments, and a ton of new service-based businesses (banks, car dealerships, retail stores, etc) will open up to serve this new and high-earning population. Another industry we could move elsewhere could be the movie industry, which we could move to Sinai, where huge studios can be built to cater for the Egyptian cinema industry and international cinema companies who will want to film in Egypt instead of Morocco, and thus also hire thousands of people. All the artists, directors, music composers, production people will be moved there, and thus creating the Egyptian Hollywood. And it won’t just be for cinema, it can host the entire media industry, including TV stations, Music companies, and production houses. A city for the arts, on the beach, attracting business and tourism. I would live there, leaving Cairo behind to rot forever! I think you would too.

Idea #3: LET’S GIVE THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT A CORRUPTION COLONIC!

It’s an idea I presented before here, and let’s present it again: The biggest hurdle against new businesses creation is the amount of corruption that exists in all levels of government, which means that if you want to start a new businesses, you have to pay a lot of bribes on many levels. A friend of mine once told me that Egypt is unique in the sense that while in most countries you pay bribes to get more than what’s rightfully yours, in Egypt you pay bribes to get what’s rightfully yours, and it’s true. Hell, if you want to open a new restaurant, there are about 18 different bribes to 18 different government officials that you must pay in order for them to let you open and hire people. If we hope to live in a better country, we need to remove all the bribe-taking individuals from our entire government, and our very scared Businesses men – who paid their fair share there- can lead the way. I want the Businessmen to unify and call for a truth and reconciliation initiative, where they will report every single bribe they paid to a government official in exchange for amnesty, and call on the rest of the population- because he didn’t have to pay some sort of a bribe to get things done here?- to do the same, and thus flush out every single corrupt government official out of the government once and for all, and highlight the weak points in Egyptian bureaucracy that allow such corruption to take place, and take measures against it, and simplify the process. This will also allow the government to get rid of many of its corrupt employees, which means that more openings in government jobs will become available, and the government can reduce its really high salary costs without bothering with early-retirement plans for people who are criminal parasites and have held the economic development of the country hostage for years. And if the businessmen or anyone for that matter, benefitted from that system, they should pay back the money they made off such corruption to the government or society, by funding social projects that benefit the country. Everybody wins!

Idea #4: LET’S HAVE A REAL SPORTS INDUSTRY!

The Sports industry in Egypt is a paradox that I can’t figure out, especially the football industry. Here is what happens: The Sporting clubs, with their football teams, are technically owned by the government, and the government funds them with half a billion pounds a year directly, without the money ever going back to the government, but rather to the Football Union. The Money from the games of the Egyptian leagues, the sponsorships and the TV broadcasting rights never goes back to the government, but rather to the corrupt Football union, whose budget- comprised of all the aforementioned items and the money it gets from the government- is its own to manage and waste, based on their personal preference, without any oversight, and thus they can fund a club like Ahly highly, while give peanuts to a club like ElEsmaely. This is why many clubs have to rely on charity from its fans to get players and compete, while their board of directors get to allocate their budgets towards benefitting themselves, friends or family members. And let’s not even talk about government institutions Football teams. Has no one ever wondered why the hell does a government owned Oil company like Enpi have a football team? Or Why does the Police, or the army, or the border guards have one? Isn’t that a waste of public resources and money? YOUR MONEY?

Instead of that stupid structure, let’s do the only thing that makes sense: The Government must stop wasting money on the sporting teams of the Oil companies and government institutions, and offer the rest of the actual sporting clubs up for privatization, selling 80% of their shares for example, and keeping 20% as a silent partner, or giving it to the members. Can you imagine how much money the government can make from selling a team like AlAhly or Zamalek to investors? Billions. Money that they can use to fund the criminally under-funded sport-centers and-god forbid- our Olympic teams. And those investors who will buy the clubs will start running the football teams correctly: We are talking real broadcasting rights negotiations, Factories creating sports merchandising, and team and club development, which in turn will develop the cities the clubs are in (Have businessmen build new stadiums for example, instead of lamenting our shitty government-built ones). Hell, we could then afford actually buying expensive international players and have them play in the Egyptian league: Imagine Ronaldo playing for the Alexandria sporting club vs. AlAhly with Messi in its ranks. We would elevate the game, start industries, and maybe even fund other sports, like, I don’t know, Basketball. All of it taxed. As for the Football Union, it would be comprised of the reps of club owners, who will make sure that no club gets favorite treatment over another, and that the resources are not wasted, because it will be THEIR MONEY. We could change the game, forever!

Idea #5: LET’S FUND OUR COUNTRY!

We agreed that we can’t depend on the anything, fine. Let’s fund our country ourselves. Let’s create “Patriotic Funds”, a huge fund per governorate that everyone can buy shares in, and that will take the money and invest them in two things: investment projects that the governorate needs, and development projects like schools or hospitals. The Income generated from their investment projects will find the development projects and provide a modest return of maybe 5% for their investors, who will be ok with it since they will see their governorate creating new jobs and factories, and having new decent public schools and hospitals getting built. Schools and Jobs for their kids. Or, we can have a law that states that every business should donate a tax-deductable 2 or 3% of its revenue to an actual social project ( a school, a hospital, infrastructure of an underdeveloped area), instead of PR campaigns like the current Egyptian companies do with their CSR budgets, and the government can supervise the projects. Simple!

Idea# 6: LET’S BRING THOSE EGYPTIAN EXPATS BACK FOR A VISIT!

This is an idea that a young enterprising man named Ahemd Fattouh said to me once, and I will present it here: Why not create a special Friday event, where we call on all Egyptians who live abroad to come down to Egypt and have their own Tahrir experience? And what better time to do this other than next September for the elections? Instead of worrying whether or not they will be able to vote, we should invite those Egyptians abroad to come back to Egypt for a week to vote and enjoy the country’s beaches or touristic sights. By doing that they will 1) ensure that their votes count and 2) provide a much needed boost to our Tourism industry, which desperately need it now. If you get 2 million out of the 12 million Egyptians who live abroad back, and each spends 3000$ on the trip, that’s 6 billion dollars entering the country right there. And we will host festivals and concerts to celebrate their homecoming and their participation, and enticing them to come back for, I don’t know, new years, or quite possibly for the Jan25 one year anniversary celebration next year! The world will see that Egypt is now safe to come back to, and if the tourism companies provide good packages to entice the tourists, our tourism will come back full force!

Idea # 7: LET’S PROVIDE OUR PEOPLE WITH FOOD SECURITY!

The reasons why we have a food-shortage in Egypt is due to three things: 1)We have a population that refuses to stop increasing, 2) We don’t have enough farmland to feed this population and 3) we don’t have enough water to create new farmland. Nothing can be done regarding the population thing, since we believe it’s our god-given right to compete with bunnies in terms of birth-rate. Fine, so we have to create new farmland in order to provide food security, which we can’t do without more water. So, it all comes down to water. But the question is: do we really not have enough water? Or are we simply wasting what we have? Well, anyone who works in agriculture will tell you that we waste our water ridiculously, because many farmers insist of just flooding their farmland with water, instead of using irrigation system that will efficiently water their crops without wasting our most valuable resource. Actually, if we make it a law that all farmlands need to have irrigation systems, not only could we cut down our waste, we could have enough water to at least double our farmland with ease! And they shouldn’t pay for it, the government should provide it for them, especially the poor farmers that depend on the Agricultural assurance bank. And while we are at it, here is a question: how come no one has ever used the lands surrounding Lake-Nasser as farmland? We are talking hundreds of thousands of acres, with water access right there. The movement of water in Lake Nasser to farm that land will ensure that we don’t lose 7% of our water reserves to vaporization, like we do right now, because it won’t be sitting still and will be used to farm that surrounding land, and thus increase our farmland and provide us with more produce, which will be sent to factories for packaging and ensure our food security. And since we are talking about Lake Nasser and food security, why not take advantage of the huge amount of fish that lives there? Do you know how much a Kilo of Fish costs in Aswan? 7 LE. Do you know how much it costs in Cairo? 23 LE! We could create an entire fishing industry, build a factory that will put the fish in cartons and ship it in frozen trucks or trains to be sold all over Egypt, feeding everyone cheaply, and to hell with the Cholesterol-inducing super-expensive red meat consumption, which in turn will lower the demand on it and make it more affordable to all Egyptians. New Farmland, new factories, more jobs and food security, and it won’t cost much. Why don’t we do it?

Just think about it!

Comments

  1. I agree,I think we should start out with public fund since everybody is obsessed with poverty lately. Where to start?

  2. Mohyi Tartoussieh says:

    No Egypt will not even think about any of the ideas you mentioned for the time being.Simply becasue that all the people in charge of the country right are stuck in the traditional schools of thinking and solving problems. Yes we do need their experinence and knowledge but they need young people’s effort ,spirit and creative thinking to move ahead and they are not doing that. Still i am very optimistic that change will happen ,these people will retire soon and be replaed by creative thinkers.
    Also why aren’t you writting your articles in Arabic or at least have them translated and published , you should spread these thoughts, words are very powerful . You can influence alot of people positively.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Man ,i appreciate your suggestions really …but i think solutions are clear somehow but the problem lies in something different. it is the freedom to make your own decisions. Well, after this 3 billion dollars debt agreement with the IMF you just started to be under control of their policies. To clear a bit about the IMF role, the IMF actually is concerned about the macroeconomic policies. The main instrument of that is currency stabilization which affect in a great deal on the main relationship between demand and supply inside national economies. The IMF plays a great role in this aspect by imposing the rules before getting into any debt negotiations to devalue the national currency. And here comes the pain as they say:). it leads to rising prices suddenly and in the same time falling in labor costs in hard currency. it also leads to reducing the governmental expenses in dollars which brings more revenue to be paid for the debt service agreed upon. By the way this is article 8 in IMF main agreement articles with any country. and around 90 developing countries have agreed upon that article. well i won’t say more what will be the social effects but that’s what i think. looking forward what the buildenburg meeting would say about the IMF new head and the current world order ;)

  4. I totally agree with all the points mentioned above. I just want to mention that, for the last point, it is NOT only about water. There are many other issues, land-quality-wise, policy-wise, of high importance (positively or negatively) in reforming our agricultural infra-structure.

  5. I also recommend having the captcha in the same commenting form instead of a separate page (current situation leads to a bug)

    • mesh fahem. there is a bug?

      • Yes, comments go to spam because of inefficiency of captcha when combined with the Akismet when the captcha is in a separate page.

        A comment of mine is in your spam and when I post it again it is considered a duplicate. I also recommend having a email notifications option for new comments.

        Thanks for this post.

  6. Willy is right.

    Any civilian government that Egyptians elect will be bound by law to repay the #IMF debt that SCAF is incurring right now. And IMF mandated economic policies will put such a strain on the Egyptian economy that none of these wonderful ideas will be possible.

    Right now SCAF is on its best behavior, and when bullies do that, you know they want something from you. They’re arresting fewer people, lifting the curfew, promising not to do any more virginity tests, and trying to reach out, which is really rather comical as they know how to talk but they don’t seem to know how to listen to anyone who isn’t their superior in military rank. What they want is for people to think that they’re responding to public pressure and that the election they need to legitimize their power and the debts they’ve incurred might change things. It won’t. No matter who people vote for, no matter who wins, the new President and Parliament will be bound by law to honor the debts that SCAF incurs now, and therefore also bound to honor the onerous terms of those loans–terms which have totally wrecked the economies of many other countries.

    If any of the money that SCAF is borrowing went to implement these great ideas, it would be wonderful, but most will go into overseas bank accounts as usual, while the rest will be used to pay the army and police to suppress public outrage at the worsening economic conditions. But of course Egyptians, having voted, will blame the new civilian Parliament and President, rather than SCAF, so Egypt’s ruling military junta will be as untouchable as always.

    Listen to what the people of Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Greece, and Spain are saying about the IMF. And they’re not alone. IMF policies have sparked revolutions in Latin America also.

    So how do you tell somebody who has been married to an abuser for a long time, that the flowers and candy and promises not to do it again are no more meaningful this time than they were the last twenty times? They know, they just can’t figure out how to escape, can’t imagine a different life, and want desperately to believe that this time things will be different.

    Sure, kiddies. SCAF loves you, the IMF cares, and elections will bring about change. The real way to make money, Sandmonkey, would be to start selling Egyptians a lot of bridges you don’t own, because they’ll buy anything.

    • If Egypt can become food independent, then it can default on the IMF loans and use its money to develop its economy, and some of those ways were outlined in this article. That is the real issue which Egypt faces, not being capable of feeding its people and therefore, held hostage to the-powers-that-be at the IMF. There is no country that I know of in the world where the people are less capable of accepting “austerity measures.”

  7. Arnvid the NileViking says:

    Always love “8″ – so idea #8 here it goes:
    We are going to Egypt in July/August – my wife (originally from Luxor), our two girls and myself. Yes, we would like to contribute as well – and MANY I know would love to give some hours or days to what’s happening in Egypt now. Not only Nile Valley tourism, Red Sea tourism or desert tourism – but “Tahrir tourism” where visitors from any country combines a holiday with our smaller or larger help (we all have both head’s and hand’s). You guys and gals of the Tahrir-revolution has done the change, let’s help in whatever way you find it right?
    Please?

  8. I never understood how Egypt can lack water – doesn’t your country have an enormous coastline, north and east? how about desalinization plants on this vast shoreline?
    As to drip irrigation – you mean you haven’t purchased the Israeli technology yet? That’s insane. Israel is also a world leader in combating desertification – knowledge which you can surely use and which can enhance production of food and various goods in a sustainable manner.

    in any case, I love that you can dream so vividly and hope for your success, although between 40% illiteracy, the IMF, the MB, and the military Junta, you really are climbing one steep hill…

  9. Karim Ragab says:

    Sandmonkey for president ! :)

  10. Your idea about egyptians expats is a good one. Not sure if it will sell. Expats choose to be egyptians despite having other altrenatives (arguably better). In return they are considered unpatriotic, not worthy of special arrangements for voting and confined to money grabbing schemes. Check my blog for the opinion of some expats regarding the current fiasco in Egypt.

  11. All great ideas – thank you for thinking out of the box. But the devil is in the HOW? I don’t think we have a dearth of ideas… we just don’t know how to implement. I don’t like to think of obstacles but really HOW can we get the ball rolling on ANY of these? Now if you can come up with THAT… you won’t be a sandmonkey, you’ll be a sandgod!

  12. I am an American, have no knowledge of Egypt and so have no idea if your ideas make any sense but it is very exciting to see the energy.
    Good luck!
    And I wish the USA could help, effectively. (But don’t count on us: we are pretty messed up right now.)

  13. IMF IMF IMF WE ALREADY GOT FKED

  14. Fastino says:

    I think its great that you are trying to think outside the box for new ideas to improve the welfare of all Egyptians, for that I highly commend you.

    But if i were to play devil’s advocate I would critique the following:

    1) “The Garbage Disposal” Issue
    Brilliant idea that is being implemented the world over, in fact with technology used around the world these days plastic water bottles can be quickly made into re-usables such as clothes, blankets, even shelter etc. Problem however is the politics involved. You allluded to the fact that you have a massive “zabaleen” community which cannot be put out of work (both inside and out of Cairo). I looked at this project breifely back in the mid-2000′s but was told that an Italian company was actually contracted to carry out recycling projects and was actually mandated with buying trash from people. This I was told this caused great distress to the “Zabaleen” community because they felt they could do the same job. In the end the Italian’s cut their cuts and left the garbage collection to the Zabaleen… Needless to say since then no proactive steps have been taken. Now I’m not saying that the Zabaleen are the problem but we need to be willing to learn from those that have the experience and know-how of implementing such projects. If these projects are left with the Zabaleen unfortunately progress will be slow if at all. The flip side of it is in reality implementing a modern garbage collecting and processing industry you will not need the number of zabaleen you currently have. Yes you can use a few to collect garbage in the tighter streets etc but you labor needs will drop significantly and that is a problem

    2) “Urban Migration”
    Needs to be done no doubt. The problem I feel is not so much with moving/creating cities to accomodate such sectors but being able to convince the skilled labor that you have in each of these sectors to take the brave step of moving north or east. Many will say “yes we need to migrate people out of Cairo; but I dont want it to be me”

    3) “Black tape”
    The red tape (more like “Black Tape”) involved with opening a business or even just registering a product is immense. This needs to change ASAP but we need to have the right people in the right places to oversee this. Lets remember there also needs to be sort of government control on quality and protecting the consumer. It can be done but we need the right people that understand what are the important red tape issues that need to remain in place and what is merely a way of allowing people up and down the system of making some kick backs

    • A German from Berlin says:

      How about giving the Zabaleen the chance to take on the whole garbage business? They can start to buy the trash from the people process it and sell it back to manufacturers. They can also expand to the whole country and local trash dealers sell back to the Zabaleen and they pick it up with trucks from places all over the country.

  15. Maher Mahmoud says:

    All good ideas – I’d also like to hear about your longer-term rantings!

    I truly believe that education is one of them? By education I mean enhancing social reasoning. This will encourage ongoing self (group) development through logic, after all it’s very hard to reason with a group that does not understand logic and has no knowledge. I’m sure you agree.

    Getting the remaining 40% of the Egyptian population to start reading would be a good start. But teaching principles and ethics from childhood is really the way forward. See, I believe that we (us Egyptians) have lost some touch along the way, and of course u can blame it all on the system, but seriously, ask an old wise man who is at least 70 years old…

    To make a point, Cairo used to be the most beautiful city in the world. Look it up! We have lost the touch of taste, and if not, then it’s responsibility…

    Its a long and bumpy road but it will pay back! I’d consider it as the long-term Economic idea for a New Egypt!

    Keep up the good work! Maher – a new visitor but one who will surely come back :)

  16. mangar (israel) says:

    My 0.2 ils:

    1. Most economics studies indicates that jobs are created mainly by small businesses. What about creating a start-up fund? It worked pretty well for us in israel. We’ve got some extra elements involved, such as grants from the chief scientist office, technological incubators, and tons of technological experience from several IDF units.

    2. Education is usually considered to be what helps people get better jobs. I don’t know how it works in Egypt, but what about state funded students loans with minimal to zero interest? Preferably, since you may want to support point #1, is to add some business classes to all state funded studies.

    3. Birth control campaigns may help poor families from dooming their children to poverty (since there are less resources to support the children).

    4. Civil liberties were empirically proven to be a contributing factor for an innovative society. That’s on your agenda anyway, but there’s a positive economic
    factor for open minded worldview.

    5. Dude, please run for something, like, seriously.

    Cheers from israel, and good luck!

  17. Champion Joe says:

    IMF loan for Egypt !
    Tahrir Square Spirit watch out, the counter revolution starts here.

  18. Steve from New York says:

    I second this sentiment

    5. Dude, please run for something, like, seriously.

    Perhaps a joint film / TV / entertainment city in Sinai partnered with Israel and US interests.
    Produce product for multi language markets
    Many would be interested in that prospect

  19. Brilliant. Can you tell me why the Cabinet is not listening? Why not post it on their webpage? Also many of your tweets today sound doable

  20. A Coffee Drinker says:

    So this may not be popular but I have to ask. Of course there was a lot of corruption under the previous government. But on whose part? It seems to me that Nazif, YBG, Rachid Rachid and some of the others already had foreign passports, had been living overseas and came back to Egypt; they owned all the houses they needed. What most of them were trying to do was to reform the system, including land reform, and take control of the economy away from the oligarchs and — dare I say it — from the MOD and the retired generals and their hotels and farms and water bottling companies who knows what all. Granted conflict of interest is not a completely solid concept in the Egyptian context. Even so, surely by now someone has noticed the prosecutions are focused on those engaged in what passed for liberalization and economic reform in Egypt, and not on stolen elections, tortured bloggers, random harassment of NGOs and political activity, etc. etc. After all, there had for some time in Egypt, even under Mubarak, been access to Facebook, the internet, mobile phones, internet cafes, cable, free dial-up, etc. at least until the security forces took control. Who ensured that? Tantawi? Not so much.

  21. Excellent ideas! I especially luv:
    #1, because we should be doing this globally – we are such a wasteful species; #2, because the idea of turning the Sinai into a Egyptian Hollywood so appeals to me as an artist – I’d be there with bells on;
    #7, because I live in a farming community in Canada and have for some time wanted to connect with Egyptian farmers, and have them connect with our local farmers who adore sharing farming ideas with people outside the area. Farmers are the backbone of our societies and they work their arses off in often thankless jobs. Sharing ideas can be rejuvenating. Also, farming tourism might help boost a farmer’s income. So many idea we could be sharing, all the while breaking down misconceptions.

    With regards to the loan offered to Egypt, I still say take the money, and set your own limits. Just because you take a loan doesn’t mean you’re selling your soul. Egypt didn’t run begging for money, the money was offered. If both sides can’t agree to the terms, then sod the loan. But that money is payback for western governments turning a blind eye to the wretched conditions Egyptians have been subjected to for 30 years under Mubarak. jmo

    With regard to the comment someone made about ‘Tahrir Tourism’… excellent! Capitalize on that to bring a whole new kind of tourist to Egypt!

    Will pass the link to this list on to others. It is full of ideas that would work. Hopefully people will take it on board and run with it.

  22. Good ideas although getting support and execution is always a problem. BTW, organic vs. non-organic both apply to food. I think you’re translating from Arabic (3odwi vs ghair 3odwi) but they don’t translate to organic. It’s recyclable vs non-recyclables. Paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum … are recyclable but they are non organic.

  23. What happened to the Egyptian film industry? We used to make great films when we still had a king!

  24. The big flaw that I see in all those ideas is that they require Egyptians to stop blaming Israel for all their problems, and actually begin working at solving their problems.

    I think that Saudi Arabia did better in this. At any case, instead of blaming Israel for their water shortage, they invested in desalination plants and if I am not mistaken they are now per capita world leaders in this.

    • Yes I think that’s correct but I also think we need to get passed all of that and we can. Egypt’s success works for all in the region and for all in the world. It will be a model for all those in the midst of their own revolutions.

      If Mahmoud’s ideas are doable on the Egyptian side, there are those of us who might be able to help on the US or Israeli side. A successful venture that works for all is a great example for all and a big first step to get beyond the usual stuff that hampers progress.

  25. On Idea#7:

    I agree food security/agriculture/water (growing food) as you rightly point out is a massive issue. Apparently the Brazilians have set up a very attractive model in agri-business/industry (see economist article: http://www.economist.com/node/16886442) where rather than importing technologies (which carries the problem of context/site specificity – or not always being applicable in other places) the Brazilians have put a lot of resources into developing their own agricultural technologies specially suited to the Brazilian context. The article highlights the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation as being key to turning Brazil into an agricultural powerhouse. And credits it with turning lots of previously unfarmable land into giant farms (and without Amazon deforestation). Where and what is our great agricultural research institution? A research outfit that can study and develop how to conserve our water and use it more efficiently, sustainably on farms – or growing crops that are not so thirsty (rice is a very thirsty crop). Or creating a variant of rice that is less thirsty.

    I agree with what Yogi and TDDPirate say above, at the moment Israel (irrigation) and Saudi Arabia (desalination) do seem to have the technology and are doing the research that would most likely be extremely valuable for us considering our geographic similarities.

    Another agri issue is wasted produce because of poor handling and packaging. And perhaps instead of again simply importing Western models/technologies because generally that would entail more reliance on plastics – perhaps we could develop/design/research alternative methods of packaging and handling our fruits and veggies. I’m thinking here something to add to the already organic – which is key – cane crates that much of our produce comes in and is transported in. Returning to the idea of rather than simply importing technology, import it but then adapt it, study it and then tweak it so that it is more pertinent to, more specific to the Egyptian context, basing it on the resources we have available here.

    Another issue regarding agriculture – what to do about all the houses currently being built on what you always hear is great arable land. An issue that is tied to a need for more homes (and increasing population), a lack of enforcable or enforced regulations and shortsightedness?

    On the other hand, there is plenty to say against creating a massive, efficient agricultural-corporate industry. Michael Pollen (among many others) has written several books (Botany of Desire, Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food) illustrating some of the major problems with the U.S. agri-corpo industry and provides alternative and arguably better (more eco-friendly) ways of feeding us humans. An example being the use of diversity on a farm, growing different crops near each other rather using huge swathes of land for one crop appears to be a much more effective (and natural) way of fighting off diseases and pests than synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

    At the same time I’m a big fan of a more hands on approach to food growing and production. Thinking of Cairo (forgive me) I cannot help but wonder what would happen if more people used roofs/balconies for creating little gardens where people could grow their own food. Can you imagine some green next to all the satellite dishes? I also wonder about the small plots of unused land (even if unused for a limited time) nestled in between buildings – what if those were turned into community gardens where again neighborhoods could grow their own food – using water from leaky taps or other water that would otherwise just be poured down the drain. And using all the organic waste we would normally throw out (and here it could connect to your garbage Idea#1) to create compost for re-use on the gardens.

    Another interesting model are the Victory gardens, where food was produced in public parks and private residencies and During World War I and World War II the US, UK, Canada and Germany as a way of dealing with food security. (a contemporary version in the US: http://www.sfvictorygardens.org and more on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden)

    On Idea#3:

    check this out: http://ipaidabribe.com/

    a website that counts/documents people paying bribes in india. sounds like a website we could use here, sounds similar to harassmap.org and the like.

    Apparently all forms of bribing (giving and taking) are illegal in India. But now there’s talk of legalizing some forms of bribe paying. NOT the one’s where you pay in order to bend the laws/rules in your favor. But the ones where you’re paying a bribe for a service that is a civil right or service (so where you shouldn’t be needing to pay any bribes). In a controversial way of trying to get of rampant corruption.

    *also from the economist: http://www.economist.com/node/18652037?story_id=18652037 (check it out egypt is on the bar-chart they include in the article)

  26. Benjamin says:

    Those are all good ideas, Mr. Sandmonkey. But they aren’t as exciting as a man fighting a lion to help the economy!

    http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/465580

  27. Apollo Screed says:

    Willly. Mark E. Smith etc.

    The IMF has lent Egypt $3bn at 1.5% interest with NO conditions. If Egypt had borrowed on the open market it would have been paying around 7% interest.

    The IMF may have had its problems in the past, but brainless IMF bashing is not helplul.

  28. very interested says:
  29. The Caliph says:

    Great ideas Sandmonkey, especially the flight out of Cairo. The capital’s growth is testament to the hierarchical structure that Egypt has traditionally had. Everything is top down with supplicants coming to see Pharaoh and his minions, none of whom dare to be top far away from the halls of power. Why does every piece of document, signature, decision etc. Have to come from Cairo? We need a diffusion of government power throughout the country -perhaps looking to the experience of Brazil and some of our African neighbors who successfully did this. I would also build on the initial work done many years ago by the IDSC to allow much of the prep work to be done online, be it applying for business licenses or contesting a traffic fine.

    On food security, there are several multi-pronged routes. We many no longer be the breadbasket of the Roman empire, but we certainly can increase production by developing underutilized marginal lands to follow the Israeli example. We can also invest in cheaper fertile land nearby in other African countries like Sudan, as China has been doing. The question is what are we striving for, food security or permanently subsidized wheat for the poor? I argue that we should make it a priority to institute economic policies that immediately seek to alleviate poverty to a stage where at least everybody can afford basic sustenance. A basic wage is part of that solution as are perhaps food stamps to prevent artificial pricing of basic goods which distort the economy and more importantly, people’s perceptions of the market.

    In my view, the central command structure of the army is a disaster and a key attribute of its failures in past conflicts. That is a discussion for another place, but in the meantime, the draft is a criminal squandering of resources. The most intelligent assets are shunted off to manual jobs because of paranoia about their education and foreign upbringing, while other recruits have not been explain what benefit this brings to them or the nation’s security. Even my wife – squeamish about all weapons – has apparently fired more rounds on more weapons that any Egyptian soldier not in a special forces program will fire in 2 years of training. I suggest that enlisted men be given a choice between military, civil construction, agricultural development or other civic duties for the duration of their service, the length of which would be flexible to match supply and demand. This would be an opportunity to impart critical vocational skills on the less educated (or less experienced) and have them do things we really need. Transportation safety, citizen’s advocacy, dedesertification, food security, rural development and health – all of these need urgent attention. Moreover, the core undergoing military training could actually be properly trained for a useful security purpose rather than providing cannon fodder.

  30. Fantastic post with great ideas Sandmonkey.
    Have you sent this to the PM Sharaf?

  31. Mike Martin says:

    Thanks for being there. I can come to your site and get a dose of Egyptian reality, not easily available from the normal western press. I wish you and you county the best of luck. You will need it.

  32. Canicula says:

    Hi Monkey,
    just an idea from India for the corruption problem

    http://www.ipaidabribe.com/

    Helps people monitor, control and influence the amount they pay and what they get for it.

  33. M.Nassar says:

    I agree. Mostly!

  34. Great ideas!

  35. not to dismiss your article, but looking at the macro level, this article from aljazeera looks scary:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/06/2011689456174295.html

  36. ok not dismiss what you say again, it sounds so dreamy and pinkish and straight out of disney.. Really you have the nicest ideas with the best intentions and the kindest egyptian heart and you’re talking as if everyone is the nicest egyptian you met, however remember that you’re not dealing with “3ammi taha” but that you’re in against robbers and criminals who have Phds in stealing your country and lying through their teeth and confusing you guys and misleading you from your real cause, they will suck egypt dry like cancer if you don’t take care of them early on

  37. I agree with you . Fantastic post with great ideas i think so

  38. I hope that Egyptian activists (ok, they’re busy. Maybe the parents of activists?) can organize relatively low cost revolutionary tours of Cairo and Alexandria for activists, etc. from other countries. Revolutionary places + other great places to visit. Minimize airfare and maximize money spent on the ground to local businesses and NGOs.

    With a web site where people can talk about their visits, post photos, and find ways to support the revolution after they return home.

    I’d love to go!

  39. Good article, thank you for sharing

  40. 1) Abandon ideas that don’t stand up to analysis. Some ideas are no better that the guy who thought he could power an electric car with a windmill on it’s roof.

    2) Look into medical and health tourism. Egypt is full of medical specialists. A lot of medical treatment has become prohibitively expensive in other countries. You wait too long for state treatment and it is often poor and issue-laden. Private treatment is beyond what most can afford. Perhaps use existing holiday complexes off-season as treatment centers. Get everything certified.

    3) Attract green investment. The Qattara Depression is an ideal location for saltwater / seawater greenhouses.

  41. Great article. I have to agree with Karim Ragab…your ideas are fantastic and well thought out! As a foreigner, I’d really like to see these things come about…and although there are a large number of obstacles to get past before any of these things materialize, I hope the Egyptian economy reaches its full potential in my lifetime.

  42. honestly i don’t what exactly happen to Egypt, but nice info anyway…

  43. Too bad about the army controlling there, absolutely insane that it’s happening right after all that…

  44. Although there is a giant stomach and intestines 19 m long, but its digestive ability is rather poor. Their main external characteristics for flexibility and muscular long nose and fan big ears, and has the function of tie up roll, is like self-defense and powerful tool for feeding. Long nose, eye only like 1 family, altogether 2 of 2 kinds, namely Asian elephants and African elephants.

  45. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to
    my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched
    her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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