Egyptian’s enjoy the “good life” as much as anyone and are proving happy to drive to it in the new suburbs outside Cairo. Unfortunately, the higher level of energy consumption associated with suburban living could be Egypt’s undoing.
The following article appeared on August 25 in the New York Times
Enormous subdivisions have sprung up in the dunes outside of Cairo, on an almost incomprehensible scale.
The government’s original plans — which are widely considered more wishful than literal — conceived of 6 October City’s expanding to 3 million by 2020 and New Cairo to 4 million, primarily as havens for working-class Cairenes. So far, however, the overwhelming majority of new residents come from Egypt’s uppermost economic strata.
Some of the earliest arrivals in the new cities are affluent Egyptians like Nisrine Alkbeissi, 29, who chose suburban quality of life over urban convenience.
She was hosting two friends who had driven 50 miles for coffee. A few years ago, they lived only a few miles apart but hours away when they factored in Cairo’s legendarily snarled traffic.
Now they drive along the ring road from New Cairo in the east to 6 October City in the west, never once getting close enough even to spot the old city in the distance.
Our apologies for the extensive quote, but the article is focused on class inequality and suburbanization and a little editing is necessary to tease out the energy story
This story makes it sound like Egypt is going for American style “quality of life” on a big scale. This cannot be good given other recent headlines like: “Energy crisis stirs public unrest“.
Let’s review the existing trends in Egypt.
Population growth of 21% in the last decade puts Egypt among the world’s fastest growing countries. Their total energy consumption has barely been able to keep up with population. But how much oil and gas are they producing relative to their consumption of those fuels? Are they “energy independent”?
It turns out that Egypt is currently “energy independent” but the trend in oil is very disturbing. Egypt is set to become a net oil importer in 2010. The situation with gas is still evolving as Egyptians develop their natural gas reserves. But adding huge new cities offering “quality of life” amenities will only add to the demand for power and hence for natural gas.
It looks like Egypt is less than a decade away from shifting firmly into the camp of the net energy importers.
- Diesel shortage pushes Egyptians to the brink (Reuters, Feb 13, 2013)
- After a bout of power cuts, Egypt looks to alternatives (The National, Dec 8, 2010)