Ancient Egyptians relied on the river Nile for it’s survival and prosperity.  The survival of modern day Egypt relies not only on the Nile but on the Aswan Dam.  The dam protects the country from floods and drought.  It protects from famine as it ensures a constant, reliable source of water for land irrigation therefore Egypt is now dependent on the dam for it’s food production.  The dam is the main source of Egypt’s electric power.  The dam is important to the tourist industry as it ensures the level of the river is consistently at a level that allows the Nile Cruisers to travel between Aswan, Luxor and Qena.

Ethiopia, Sudan and perhaps the other countries up-river from Egypt are now in preparation for building their own dams and their own projects on the Nile – who can blame them?  They also need water and power and, some might argue, their needs could be more pressing in the short term than Egypt.  Whatever the outcome of the talks, negotiations and maybe forthcoming battles over the river Nile – it is time for Egyptians to put their collective heads together and start finding alternative and innovative solutions to the following problems.

Water – Egypt needs to find other sources of water as well as improving it’s existing pipelines, pumping and irrigation systems, to cater for it’s 80 million population, which is set to double over the next 40 – 50 years.

Sewage – existing systems need upgrading and expanding.  Treating and pumping water back into the rivers and seas are not the only options available.

Power – Egypt is subject to constant power cuts indicating problems and shortage of supply with the existing power grid.  Alternative sources of power need to be invented, adapted and developed.

Food – 3.5 feddans are being lost from arable farm land PER HOUR in Egypt due to costal, urban and desert encroachment.  Alternative and additional systems of food production need to be implemented

Education – Academic- the Education system is not serving Egypt or it’s people – it is outdated and still teaching children to learn by rote instead of teaching them how to use their brains.  Of all the countries in Africa and the Middle East the ability of Egyptians to speak anything other than arabic is pitiful and limits their ability to learn from economic or other developments in the rest of the world.

Education – Technical.  Egypt’s attention to the teaching of practical and necessary trades such as plumbing, electric and even carpenters is basic and abysmal.  It’s control over the standards applied to such important fields as plumbing and electric work is apparently non-existent and potentially catastrophic. There are little or no facilities in Egypt to teach trades or craftsmanship to anyone.

Public Sector Government positions are mostly a waste of time and money.  A minute proportion of the paperwork required to accomplish anything in Egypt is actually necessary or productive.  In fact most of it hinders development of any kind in Egypt and is a source of great frustration to it’s citizens – apart from those with the money to move the paperwork forward that is!  A system in part responsible for the current revolution.  All government departments need to be completely overhauled and made productive – those staff currently employed in irrelevant and non-productive positions should be re-trained for new productive positions and new productive Ministries need to be created in other sectors apart from those already in existence.

Government Ministers are also paralysed and would be very foolish indeed should they try to effect any kind of significant change in their departments as I think most of them wait each day to hear if their name has been added to the ever-changing list of government officials targeted by Tahrir demonstrations.

Security POLICE– Currently the security forces are paralysed due to fear of Tahrir Square.   I cannot blame the police for not wanting to return to the streets.  Their position is such at the moment that should they try to apprehend or question a citizen they would run the risk of being attacked by onlookers or passer-bys.  In the current climate the police would probably be deemed to be wrong in any situation an individual or collective body of policemen might find themselves in.

Security ARMY– the armed forces, it would seem, are the current focus of the anger from protesters, at a time when it should be free to concentrate on the security of Egypt’s borders as well as the overseeing of the coming elections – instead it is being drawn into a publicity war with protesters.

Economy – let’s not even discuss this issue – it has become a dirty word in Egypt at the moment especially among the “economic experts” of the revolution.  Until government departments are streamlined and made productive there is little hope for an improved economy.

Tourism – Egyptian tourism is in the toilet now for the most part and not showing much signs of immediate recovery.  Gains and inroads into foreign markets made in the past are being eroded as international tourists find alternative places to spend their holidays.  Global economic situations also are having a huge effect on the tourist industry as Egypt used to be among the more economical places to visit – that market has considerably diminished now.  Egypt has increasingly over the years been observed and commented on by international visitors and experts for it’s lack of anything other than the “cosmetic” care it takes of it’s most prized monuments and sites.  Wind and underground water erosion is destroying a major source of income for Egypt faster than Egypt is responding to the problems.  Experts acknowledge that they are increasingly spending their time documenting, recording and photographing these monuments as they now know they are fast losing the conservation battle – soon enough these monuments will be no more.

I wait in hope for a true “Arab Awakening” among the Egyptian people to the monumental practical problems of water, food, power supply and security issues facing Egypt. It has long been a joke among foreigners, tourists and Egyptians – this difference between “Egyptian Time” and “English Time”  Egyptians may not have the luxury of tackling basic survival issues in “Egyptian Time” as events in the world outside Egypt move at a faster pace – Egypt may wake too late to find itself forever struggling for survival in an economic backwater instead of being an emerging economy with potential.  Egypt is being left far behind by the faster moving economies of India and China.  Many would say it is already too late in the game!

 

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