Long overdue investments in Upper Egypt helps to fight extremism

Sent On: 
Thu, 2021-03-04
Newsletter Number: 

The Egyptian Ministry of Planning announced an investment of 105 billion Egyptian pounds in Upper Egypt in the coming three years. For a very long time Upper Egypt is also the region where the greatest poverty is in Egypt. This explains why millions of Upper Egyptians have emigrated to Cairo where they mostly populate the poorest quarters of Cairo.

Map of Egypt, source: https://tylerhansonancientegypt.weebly.com/geography-and-location.html


The Upper Egyptian governorates Sohag and Assiut have the highest poverty rate in the country, standing at 66%, according to a 2016 report by Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics CAPMAS. The same CAPMAS reported in August 2019 that the percentage of Egyptians, who live in extreme poverty, rose to 32.5 in 2018 from 27.8 percent in 2015. The highest percentage of poverty was recorded in Upper Egypt, mainly in Assuit and Sohag, with 66.7 percent and 59.6 percent respectively. 46 villages in these two governorates have poverty rates ranging between 80 to 100 percent. Of course, this affects migration.


Upper Egypt is also that part of Egypt where the percentage of Christians is substantially higher than the Delta. This explains that also Christians have emigrated in large numbers to Cairo, not because they were persecuted as some activists in the West claim but mostly to seek better economic opportunities.

The CAPMAS uses 8,282 EgP (US$ 501.03) annually and $1.3 daily as the poverty line. The World Bank, however, has set the poverty line at $3.20 per day for lower-middle-income countries, such as Egypt and India. If this figure is used as the poverty line the percentage of extreme poor in Egypt will be substantially higher.


The areas with most poverty are often also the areas with most societal tensions including tensions between Muslims and Christians. Most tensions are reported in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya. It is remarkable that this is higher than in the governorates of Assiut and Sohag where poverty is even higher but that in turn is related to these governorates being stronger, both in administration and security.


With this in mind it is important that Egypt is not only focusing on large infrastructural projects such as the Suez Canal, roads and bridges but that also attention is given to address the extreme poverty in the country. The intention is to bring about real, tangible, and rapid development that would improve the quality of life and provide decent living opportunities. This includes exploiting existing opportunities and providing more job opportunities for youth.



Cairo, March 4, 2021


Cornelis Hulsman,

Editor-in-chief Arab-West Report