If ever a country had the gift of being placed in the best geographical position on the map, it is Egypt.
There they are, with the Mediterranean to the north, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the east and all of Africa to the south and west of them. It is literally, the crossroads between Asia, Europe and Africa.
Not to mention Egypt’s priceless Nile River and its still largely untapped resources such as the hydro-electric power opportunities, the fertile agricultural land of its Nile Valley and the country’s unimaginable solar and wind power potential.
Egypt has more than 84 million people who live on only 3 percent of the total land area of the country, who could help to bring all those opportunities to fruition. There is no shortage of manpower in Egypt with an unemployment rate over 50 percent.
Some 96 percent of the country is desert, with nothing in sight except the blasting Sun and sand dunes. One tiny corner of Egypt covered with solar photovoltaic panels (or thermal solar power) could power all of Europe!
Some of that unused land could be used for wind farms as there is plenty of untapped potential there too.
Egypt should be the richest nation (per capita) on the planet.
But it’s not. Which can only mean one thing. Bad management.
Of course in previous centuries, excessive looting by some colonial powers and Egypt’s ill-advised military adventures in recent decades didn’t help. Nor did the Cold War, an evil, but seemingly necessary step in our civilisational progress.
All those things are now far removed from the scene, so why isn’t Egypt rich?
There is no reason good enough, that Egypt’s people shouldn’t be enjoying their lives to the same per capita income levels, or better, than the fortunate citizens of Norway or Sweden who have an excellent standard of living, even without Egypt’s advantageous geological placement!
If Egypt’s people are demonstrating against anything at all, they are demonstrating against poverty and inequality — in what should obviously be one of the richest per capita nations on the planet.
There is no reason for them to live in poverty, nor should they feel like global second-class citizens.
A country belongs to it’s citizens – not to the military junta, not to elected politicians, and not to foreign interests!
It’s their country. Egypt belongs to the Egyptian people and they have the right to make the most of their resources — and they sense something is wrong because, so far, only the least has been made with that nations great resource base and geopolitical placement. The waves of protest that we have seen over the past months attests to the depth of those sentiments.
Expect the present cycle (civil disobedience, revolution, new government) to repeat endlessly, until the Egyptian people are satisfied that the wealth of their country is being utilized properly, (for now), and to its maximum potential, (eventually). Not just that, but shared equally — with a minimum of inequality between citizens.
The present demonstrations are not to be confused with political advantage, or politics at all. These demonstrations are fundamentally about ‘bread and butter’ issues.
Some foreign powers are trying to paint the Egyptian protests which led to the downfall of President Mubarak, the rise of Mohamed Morsi, and the removal of Morsi by coup d’état, as part of ‘the great transition to democracy’ and that is what it is all about in Egypt. Which is an utter crock.
It’s about which politicians (if any) can make the lives of everyday Egyptians better. What Egyptians want is jobs, stable food prices and personal safety, and a whole lot of chatter about democracy is great – IF that gets them closer to their goals.
The people want bread!
People will say and agree to almost anything on the path to full stomachs and disposable incomes. They want to have a share in the country’s great (and so far, largely wasted) wealth, and its unimaginable future wealth. Egyptians want to feel proud of their nation and their accomplishments instead of being referred to as ‘that backward, poverty-stricken nation between Israel and Libya’.
When a government arrives in power that can attract the necessary Foreign Direct Investment to build the country’s infrastructure — especially, the agriculture and energy sectors, and build a massive north/south electrical transmission network going (north to service Europe, and south to service the rest of Africa) then and only then, will we see an end to the present downward spiral of politics, democracy, and the faith in government institutions in Egypt.
It’s the economy, stupid.
Egypt’s next ten leaders should take a page out of former President Bill Clinton’s book, and place a sign on their desk, saying; “It’s the economy, stupid!“
If they ever get that right, the rest will fall into place…
JOHN BRIAN SHANNON
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- The Egyptian Struggle and Beyond – by Tony Blair (Project Syndicate)
- Bring back Egypt’s Elected Government — by Jeffrey D. Sachs (Project Syndicate)