While some are still attacking the huge maritime and land transport lines projects in Egypt, with all their patterns, starting with the new Suez Canal and ending with the express train project between Ain Sokhna and the city of El Alamein, and passing through the National Roads Project that redefines the geographical and economic reality inside Egypt, the world is moving very quickly Towards rebuilding transport and trade lines, not only at the domestic level, but also at the continental level.
At the moment, there is a bunch of megaprojects being executed simultaneously. China stands behind its huge “Belt and Road” project, whose land component includes six huge economic corridors linking it to the regions of South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and Europe, through a package of high-quality express railways and land lines (in addition to many other economic components, Such as gas and oil transmission lines, and economic zones). While its maritime component is based on deepening the connection between the Chinese sea ports on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and European ports through the Pacific and Indian oceans, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, as well as the eastern African coasts.
On the other hand, India, in cooperation with several countries, is behind a package of projects. It stands with Japan behind the “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” project, which was announced in November 2016, which aims to deepen the connection of infrastructure and trade routes between Africa and the East and South Asia regions. India also stands with Russia, Iran and a number of Central Asian countries behind the “North-South Corridor” project, which includes a multi-types network of international trade routes (sea, land and railways) linking the regions of South Asia and West Asia (Iran and the Arab Gulf region), And Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, and even northern Europe. Japan also stands behind several initiatives to develop infrastructure in the “Indo-Pacific” region.
It goes beyond building high-quality high-quality railways and land roads, building and developing ports, to include changing the existing geography by creating more sea lanes and canals. For example, the Chinese project to split the “Kra” channel, which aims to connect the Indian and Pacific Oceans, by linking the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand at the isthmus of “Kra” (Thailand). Likewise, the Iranian project to dig a canal linking the Caspian Sea with the Indian Ocean or the Arabian Gulf (two different paths are still on the table), known as the “Iran River” project, is a project that is supported by Russia (which has beaches on the Caspian Sea), given the opportunity it provides. To penetrate the Indian Ocean or the Arabian Gulf. Egypt is also behind the “Cairo-Cape Town” project.
These are only very limited examples of the dozens of mega-projects taking place in the world, with the goal of deepening the infrastructure connection on a trans-regional basis. Apart from the political and security motives behind launching these projects, the economic dimension remains strongly present; It can be said that a basic philosophy now governs the world, which is the tendency to deepen the physical connectivity between international economies, by building new trade routes along with developing traditional methods and making them safer. Deepening connectivity here goes beyond the physical aspect, represented by trade routes, as it also includes deepening “digital connectivity” through the expansion of optical fiber networks and lines, which is also reflected in China’s proposal for the “digital silk road” which mainly focuses on developing communications networks and smart cities. And e-commerce services … etc.
Once again, far from political motives, deepening the connection of infrastructure has become part of a global trend to promote and create global trade and its sustainability, as well as its important developmental dimensions. Many of these projects have already been implemented, and some are under implementation or study.
No country will be able to benefit from this new global trend if it decides to remain isolated from these projects, or if its internal infrastructure remains ineligible to be linked by international roads (sea, land, or rail). The addition of the new Suez Canal enabled Egypt to deepen its link with the Maritime Silk Road, which is expected to lead to a significant increase in trade and maritime transport flows between Europe and the regions of East and South Asia and the African coasts. This vision should also be present to us in understanding the package of Egyptian projects in the field of modernizing road and internal railways. How can Egypt benefit from continental connectivity projects without a high-quality internal road network linking the largest possible number of Egyptian cities and governorates? The same philosophy is what governed China’s tendency to connect many of its cities in the center and west to European cities via a network of railways, passing through the countries of Central Asia. These lines have turned these Chinese cities into areas of origin for commodities capable of global trade, and have deepened their relations with the global economy, after they were imprisoned cities suffering from poverty. The same will happen in Egypt with the creation of this important internal network that qualifies for international connectivity.
A broader reading of what is happening around us in the world will provide us with an entry point for a more accurate and deeper understanding of what is currently going on in Egypt, rather than reducing it to a “bridge” or just a “train” as some insist on that.