By Gamal Eid
After a long day in the villages of El-Saf Center in Giza governorate in search of an appropriate place to establish a public library within, our initiatives to found five public libraries in some of Cairo’s popular districts and some provinces. A friend of mine from El-Saf blamed me in a phone call for not calling him while being in his village. He voiced desire to meet me to inform me about some of his concerns in his village. We already met.
My friend spoke of his deep sorrow and astonishment of the continuity of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s policy even after President Mohamed Morsi took office. The new regime took the same path of its predecessor. We still hear official statements on the necessity of manufacturing and attracting investments to establish new projects contributing to employment and creating an economic entity that is able to compete and export. In contrary, the realities go in the opposite direction.
The friend said to me that the El-Saf area since 1990s has turned into a major industrial zone, mostly dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises. It includes now about 500 factories specialized in manufacturing clay brick and refractory bricks required for tourist facilities and hotels, as well as poultry farms.
These factories, with an average of 40 workers each, were established through own efforts without any aid from the state and have been working here since more than ten years. They also pay taxes regularly. However, many of them have become threatened of being halted due to the government ignorance and lack of interest despite their legal demands. Their demands are logic and simple and will not cost the state a lot. Paying attention to these projects will not only provide an encouraging model of work for other people to follow suit, but will also create job opportunities and provide indispensable products at low prices.
The majority of the owners of these medium-sized industrial factories are labor who returned back from the Gulf region. Through their savings, the returnees established these factories and farms on the outskirts of El-Saf city. The projects started to manufacture products for not only the local market, but some of them are also for export. But the projects have become unable to continue their work due to the lack of electricity or due to an unpaved road network.
Yes, they work without electricity and roads that facilitate the transfer of their goods. Most of the factories rely on diesel as fuel which they obtain at very high prices. Now, they are not able to go ahead in their work amid the ignorance of the government and the administrative hindrances and bureaucracy of the local councils.
So, we talk about a promising major industrial zone, established by own efforts, provides job opportunities, manufactures important products for local market and exports, all what it needs is providing electricity and paving roads, the owners are ready to pay any fees determined by the state, that is, they will feed the state treasury with a lot of money, but no one listens to them!!
I heard my friend with astonishment, what kind of a state that seeks to attract foreign investments and provide enormous facilities to encourage investors to establish projects, while it neglects a promising industrial zone that will not cost it anything, but, it will really contribute to the renaissance of a developing countries like Egypt, and at the same time it faces ignorance and marginalization!
The small and medium-sized enterprises that produce products and goods that contribute to a true economy need to be paid more attention. Correcting the path and practice will not only lead to the development of an area like El-Saf only, but will also stimulate thousands of small investors to set up similar industrial projects, instead of seeking easy gains through resorting to one of the worst investments which is the real estate investment, that Egypt does not need in the current stage. In this kind of investment, the owner of small capital ranging from 100, 000 pounds to a half million pounds, will build a residential building and selling or hiring its flats to live on its rents. This will not provide job opportunities or products that will take Egypt to the ranks of the producing countries. We should put an end to the saying ‘No dignity for an investor in his home’!