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Alexandria City Development Strategy (CDS) for Sustainable
Alexandria City and Governorate endowments:
Alexandria is widely acknowledged as one of the most ancient and glorious cities of the world, with a
central position in commercial maritime activities in the Mediterranean Sea and numerous outstanding
landmarks such as the ancient lighthouse of Pharos—one of the Seven Wonders of the World—and the
ancient Alexandria library contributing to its prominence. Even though such treasures have not
survived, the Government of Egypt is nonetheless committed to supporting Alexandria’s rediscovery of
its rich cultural heritage and economic prominence. The government has worked with many countries
to revive the city’s archeological and cultural heritage, including most notably the reconstruction of the
new Bibliotheca Alexandrina with the support of UNESCO and many donor countries at the same
location of the ancient library. The new library houses some 4 million books, 3 museums, 5 research
institutes, several exhibition halls, an advanced conference center with 3,000 seats, and a planetarium.
Today, Alexandria is one of the major cities on the Mediterranean Sea, stretching linearly along a
coastline of about 70 kilometers to the north and bound by Lake Marioutt to the South. The city of
Alexandria, considered as Egypt’s second capital by virtue of its location and population size, houses the
large majority of Alexandria Governorate’s estimated 3.7 million inhabitants in 2001 (18.7% live in rural
areas). Alexandria Governorate covers an area of 2,819 km2, of which 1,100 km2 are inhabited (these
include 775km2 of agricultural lands and the rest—12% of the total area of the Governorate—in
urbanized lands).
The city of Alexandria has a diversified economic base and a competitive advantage in several economic
sectors. With respect to tourism, Alexandria offers a variety of attractions, including important historic
and religious landmarks from the Roman, Islamic, Coptic, and Jewish periods. The city and its region,
which enjoy a temperate climate year round, feature long sandy beaches, in addition to numerous parks
and recreational areas, fairs, cultural events, etc. During summer months, the city receives some 3
million visitors, making it the most popular summer resort for Egyptians. Yet, the number of foreign
tourists visiting Alexandria was a mere 309,000 in 2002, which constitutes a critical focus for city
planners seeking to expand the city’s tourism potential and thus improve economic prospects for the
city’s population. It is recognized that Alexandria needs a strategic plan to promote the city as a tourist
destination for foreign visitors, building on its numerous assets and its important tourism infrastructure
(hotels, an international airport, a mega seaport, etc) to create an accessible, attractive and inexpensive
venue for tourists.
Overall, Alexandria plays a key role in the
national economy. The port of Alexandria is
Egypt’s largest, with 57% of total port
capacity in the country, and one of the
Mediterranean basin’s major ports.
Government has plans to develop the port to
globally. Alexandria Governorate is also one
of the most important industrial bases in
Egypt, with several large, well-equipped
Gharbaneyyat) that give it a dominant
position in the manufacturing sector. It is
home to 4,417 industrial establishments
industrial production and employing 35.8%
of the Governorate’s labor force.
Alexandria’s main industries are in the chemical and petrochemical sector (272 enterprises); steel, iron
and engineering industries (886); construction materials (107); wood products (327); spinning and
weaving (1,160); food industries (486); and over 1,100 other manufacturing enterprises. Finally, the
availability of different transportation means linking Alexandria to all Egyptian regions (by land, a
railway together with an international, regional and ring road network; by sea, Egypt’s largest port; and
by air, two international airports) represents one of the city’s key strengths in attracting investment.
Challenges and opportunities:
Despite its many significant endowments and competitive advantages, and the noteworthy efforts to
develop and beautify the city (Alex was awarded the best Arab city prize from the Arab Cities
Organization in 2002), Alexandria still faces difficulties in achieving a sustainable development process
built around a vision and action plan to improve the standard of living for its citizens, and a local
economic development strategy that defines development priorities in the city. Overall, the Governorate
leadership defined three challenges as top priorities to be addressed in the city’s future development:
I) Squatter Settlements. The city currently has about 48 squatter settlements, with an estimated
1,059,974 inhabitants, representing 30.5% of the total population. Squatter settlements suffer from
several problems including high population density,[1] lack of infrastructure and basic services,[2] poor
healthcare services,[3] lack of educational facilities, which results in high pupil density in classrooms,[4]
and most importantly a high unemployment rate.[5]
II) Lake Marioutt: Lake Marioutt lies to the south of Alexandria city, extending to the west until Borg
El Arab new city. The lake covers an area of about 74 km2 and is divided into four basins: the Main
basin (26km2), the Northwest basin (14.7 km2), the Fishing basin (4.2 km2) and the Southwest basin
(29.4 km2). Unfortunately, Lake Marioutt has become over time a repository of industrial, agricultural
and sanitary water discharge, and is now the cause of many environmental threats in the city and the
delta region generally.[6]
The lake nonetheless has a strategic importance at the regional and local level. Indeed, the lake plays an
important role in the balance of water in the delta region. Without it and without direct drainage to the
sea, the level of water would continue to rise, which would eventually flood wide areas of land. In
addition, due to the scarcity of land for new development in Alexandria, Lake Mariout and the
surrounding area are now viewed as prime land for urban expansion as well as a significant economic
resource for the city. As a result of a public-private partnership, a major commercial center with a large
retail establishment (Carrefour) was constructed by the lake and it has rapidly become Alexandria’s
most attractive shopping and recreational area. Such pressures for development in the areas
surrounding the lake instigate the need for short, medium and long-term plans to ensure the area is
developed in a sustainable way and to prevent its deterioration through unplanned growth.
III) Lack of a long-term economic development strategy: Several achievements have
established Alexandria over the past few years as an Egyptian showcase in regard to public-private
partnerships, improved business environment and attracting new investments. Indeed, Alexandria
Governorate has recently established a business facilitation center, with funding from the Canadian
Agency for International Development to act as a one-stop shop window for investors. The center will be
responsible of issuing business licenses in a maximum of 20 days. In addition, a Local Economic
Development Department (LEDD) has been established in the Governorate, but it still lacks the
technical capacity to develop a medium to long-term economic development strategy as well as exposure
to regional and global knowledge in this regard, especially in surrounding industrial/ port cities. Yet,
Alexandria faces several challenges to achieve long-term, sustainable economic development,
particularly because the city lacks an integrated long term vision based on a sound understanding of its
competitiveness (at the national and regional level), potential cluster/business sector growths and
investment priorities.
Alexandria CDS:
The challenges represented by the large population living in squatter settlements with limited access to
infrastructure services, the environmental degradation of Lake Marioutt and the lack of a long-term
economic development strategy prompted Alexandria Governorate’s leadership to launch a participatory
process for the formulation of a long-term City Development Strategy (CDS) for sustainable
development in Alexandria. The Governor of Alexandria issued decree No.444-2004 on July 17, 2004,
forming the Alexandria CDS team and establishing its roles and responsibilities. The CDS committee is
chaired by the Secretary General of Alexandria Governorate, and includes three sub-groups in charge of
Local Economic Development, Lake Marioutt Development, and Squatter Settlements Upgrading and
Development (See Annex 1 for a list of committee members). The objective of the Alexandria CDS
strategy is twofold:
Economic: Developing a medium to long-term Local Economic Development (LED)
strategy. The strategy would examine and capitalize upon the city’s competitiveness to
diversify and specialize the economic base of the city; support productivity and establish an
enabling business environment.
Specific policy will be designed to create economic
development opportunities in low-income areas, including squatter settlements, and the means
to finance them.
Physical/Environmental: Developing a participatory upgrading strategy for the squatter
settlements and Lake Mariout within a sustainable urban development framework.
strategy would include specific measures for improving living conditions of residents,
preventing further environmental deterioration in Lake Mariout and improving municipal
capacities in delivering secure tenure and services to squatter settlements within the framework
of participatory urban upgrading process.
Scope of Work
This assignment is intended to prepare the ground for the formulation of the Alexandria LED strategy
(one of the two key CDS components), by providing in-depth an analytical study assessing Alexandria’s
local economy and competitiveness. Specifically, the Consultant is expected to conduct a SWOT analysis
for Alexandria City and Governorate, undertake an analysis of the city and governorate’s existing assets
and economic base, identify the factors that contribute to their competitiveness and the characteristics
of existing investments and profiles of investors, the opportunities/potential for investment and the
sectors and business clusters that have growth potential and the impediments facing such
sectors/clusters, and develop guidelines on types of economic activities and sectors that could support
the city and governorate economy and the required actions to address the bottlenecks facing
these. Special attention should be paid to the Alexandria port and port-related activities and business
clusters, the manufacturing sector, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and the capitalization on the
city’s cultural and archeological heritage and tourism potentials, as well as the environmental and
economic development potentials of the Lake Marioutt area