Egypt population reaches 105m

Egypt population reaches 105m
Egypt's population has reached 105 million, highlighting the threat of overpopulation in a poverty-stricken country where many live in crowded megacities (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2023

Egypt population reaches 105m

Egypt population reaches 105m
  • On Oct. 1, 2022, the database put the population at 104 million
  • Increase of 1 million in 245 days — eight months and five days

Cairo: Egypt’s population reached 105 million on Saturday, according to the population clock linked to the government’s birth and death registration database.

On Oct. 1, 2022, the database put the population at 104 million, meaning that there has been an increase of 1 million in 245 days — eight months and five days.

“The increase of 1 million people in eight months is deeply concerning. This level of population growth presents a formidable challenge and a hindrance for the Egyptian state as it disrupts the path to development,” Fatima Mahmoud, a specialist at the Demographic Center in Cairo, told Arab News.

Mahmoud emphasized the government’s strong intent to manage population growth, highlighting that it significantly strains the state’s resources and budget.

“While the increase is indeed alarming, the situation isn’t entirely bleak. An analysis of the data on the difference in birth and death rates reveals that the recent increase of 1 million was reached in 245 days.

“Comparatively, the prior million increase was achieved in just 221 days, nearly 24 days (fewer). This indicates a noticeable decline in birth rates, a positive trend that should be supported by the government,” she said.

“Aid packages should be granted to families with two children, while community assistance should be withheld for those with more than two children. The government must innovate beyond conventional means to effectively control population growth as it poses a substantial threat to development,” Mahmoud added.

Meanwhile, the latest report from the Maat Foundation, which specializes in community studies, said that Egypt’s population growth “negatively impacts” the country’s ability to achieve sustainable development.

It explained: “The economic consequences of population increase include higher consumption among individuals, increased state expenditures on services, widespread unemployment, reduced wages in both public and private sectors, rising housing prices, urban expansion onto agricultural lands, deterioration of public facilities, and inflated allocations of public spending on essential services such as education, health, transportation, housing, social protection, and security.

“All these effects are unfortunately at the expense of capital expenditure on developmental projects in primary productive sectors like agriculture and the transformative industry.”

However, Dr. Alia Al-Mahdi, a professor at the faculty of economics and political science at Cairo University, argued that population increase “is not necessarily a barrier to economic development.”

She said: “A large population can become a positive factor for achieving growth and economic development if the state effectively utilizes the human resources, as demonstrated in countries like India and China, each with a population exceeding 1 billion.”

Al-Mahdi added: “Economic decline, deterioration, and sluggish growth rates are usually the catalysts for increased population growth. Conversely, population growth rates decrease when the economy is performing well and incomes are rising. This is reflected in citizens’ growing desire to enhance their quality of life, consequently reducing the birth rate.”

Djibouti FM calls for international financial reform in UNGA speech

Djibouti FM calls for international financial reform in UNGA speech
Updated 24 September 2023

Djibouti FM calls for international financial reform in UNGA speech

Djibouti FM calls for international financial reform in UNGA speech
  • Mahmoud Ali Youssouf: High costs of loans, falling public revenues prevent developing nations from investing in SDGs
  • Djibouti is one of 22 African nations categorized as ‘in financial distress’ by World Bank

NEW YORK: The world must commit to reform of the international financial structure to enable developing nations to grow and reach development goals, Djibouti’s foreign minister told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Mahmoud Ali Youssouf criticized what analysts sometimes call “minilateralism” — the tendency of countries to group together in clubs — saying it erodes inclusive multilateralism.

He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to intergovernmental negotiations for the Summit of the Future, which aims to reinvigorate multilateralism, boost implementation of national commitments, and restore trust among UN member states. The summit will be held in late September next year in New York.

Youssouf called for reform of the international financial structure, saying high costs of loans and falling public revenues prevent developing nations from investing in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and increases the likelihood that they will default on their debt payments.

Djibouti is one of the 22 African nations that the World Bank has labeled as “in financial distress,” and the country suspended its payments on nearly $1.4 billion in debt to China early this year.

“Despite the deterioration of the world economic situation, Djibouti has worked unwaveringly to achieve the SDGs, and has made notable progress in a number of areas such as reducing malnutrition and undernutrition, and has effectively managed the pandemic,” Youssouf said.

“Djibouti integrated the SDGs in our national development plans and in our strategies, such as the 2035 Djibouti Vision.”

The country’s long-term strategic vision aims to strengthen peace and national unity, diversify the economy, consolidate human capital, and encourage regional integration and international cooperation.

Djibouti has also prioritized poverty reduction, access to potable water and sustainable economic growth, Youssouf said.

He referenced the Ghoubet Wind Power Station, the country’s first-ever grid-ready renewable energy power station, which was commissioned in mid-September.

The project, which will produce roughly 60 megawatts of electricity, will be the first international investment project in the energy sector in Djibouti, “and will serve as a model for future private investment,” Youssouf said.

He also urged countries to achieve the goals laid out by the Paris Climate Agreement, and called for the full operation of the Loss and Damage Fund, which was agreed upon in the COP27 conference in Egypt last year, and aims to provide financial assistance to countries impacted by the effects of climate change.

Youssouf stressed the importance of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Sudan, which he called “a sister nation with whom we share political, historical and cultural close ties.”

He also called for a peaceful resolution to his country’s dispute with Eritrea over the Doumeira Islands.

In 2008, clashes in the small border region on the Red Sea coast led to the deaths of dozens of Eritrean and Djiboutian soldiers.

Djibouti has accused Eritrea of occupying the region since the withdrawal of Qatari peacekeepers six years ago.

‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN

‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN
Updated 24 September 2023

‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN

‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN
  • Conflict, climate change, poverty fueling mass migration from Africa: Nabil Ammar
  • Global governance must be rebuilt to navigate ‘delicate page in history’

NEW YORK: “Substantive” reforms to the international financial system and global economic governance are necessary to bridge the gap between rich and poor countries, Tunisia’s foreign minister told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Nabil Ammar warned that the world is “experiencing a very delicate page in its history,” defined by growing crises and challenges, “wars and conflicts getting worse and geopolitical divisions being evident.”

He said: “Is this really the world to which we aspire after almost eight decades since the creation of the UN? This is an image that’s very distant from the goals and values that this organization is based on.”

Ammar called for universal acknowledgment that the international financial system has failed in its objectives.

Only then can the system, “which has increased the gap between advanced countries and developing countries,” be rebuilt, he said.

“The international monetary system has failed; the system which was created following the Second World War to provide a safety net for the world, to guarantee lasting financing for development and for the least-developed countries. This system, quite to the contrary, has disappointed and has abandoned these countries.”

Indebtedness among developing countries is worsening, he warned, with growing poverty and hunger fueling an “unprecedented increase in refugees and migrants.”

Tunisia has taken on an outsized burden in that regard because of its geographical position as a gateway to Europe, and due to the effects of conflict and climate change in Africa, Ammar added.

“We reiterate the need to adopt a global approach to tackle this issue of illegal migration, by focusing on its root causes rather than simply its consequences.”

He added: “We once again would like to reiterate the need for all parties to assume their responsibility — origin countries, transit countries and destination countries, as well as regional and international organizations.”

As part of the effort to address the root causes of mass migration, Ammar welcomed a decision by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to launch a response group for energy and food crises.

Ammar relayed an appeal by Tunisian President Kais Saied to establish a global emergency grain stockpile to safeguard against supply chain issues.

Ammar said confronting climate change is an “absolute priority” for Tunisia, adding: “What the world is experiencing today — the impact of climate change, deterioration of ecosystems, worsening of natural disasters — all of this forces all of us to confront these challenges urgently.”

He said: “Tunisia hasn’t been an exception to what the world has experienced and continues to experience in terms of challenges — economic challenges, social challenges and living conditions.

“And we, in spite of these difficulties, intend to overcome them, strengthen resilience and sustainability in cooperation with our friends and partners, while respecting the principles and the guiding principles of our national policies and national destiny.”

Ammar said Tunisia will continue “tirelessly” with reform, strengthening good governance and combating corruption in order to “strengthen and fine-tune our democracy.”

The country will also continue empowering women and young people to “strengthen their participation in public life and in decision-making,” he added.

Ammar called for “a new global order” and a new vision that promotes balance and equality between states, and which “takes into account the root causes of instability.”

The Palestinian question is part of that effort, he added, condemning the “silence of the international community” on Israel’s “disregard of international law.”

A just solution, overseen by the UN and based on the June 1967 borders, is necessary to achieve peace for Palestinians, Ammar said.

In Tunisia’s “immediate neighborhood,” he said his country is “providing all possible assistance” to Libya in order to achieve a political agreement there. Tunisia rejects any military solution or foreign incursions into Libya, Ammar added.

He ended his address by telling the UNGA: “We’re at a crossroads, given the scale of the risks and challenges that are unprecedented.”

The choices each country makes “should be based on long-term vision and our engagement to humanity,” he said.

Israel strikes Gaza again amid new violence at border

Israel strikes Gaza again amid new violence at border
Updated 24 September 2023

Israel strikes Gaza again amid new violence at border

Israel strikes Gaza again amid new violence at border
  • Israel has imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the impoverished Palestinian enclave ever since the Islamist group Hamas seized control in 2007

GAZA CITY: The Israeli army launched a drone strike on the Gaza Strip on Saturday after violent protests in which three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire, sources on both sides said.
The early evening strike is one of a series that have come amid near-daily protests at the border by Palestinians after Israel closed the Erez crossing from Gaza.
A drone “struck a military post belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization, adjacent to the area where a violent riot was taking place,” the army said.
It added that “shots were fired toward” Israeli soldiers near the border during the strike, without reporting any casualties.
A Palestinian security source told AFP that an “Israeli aircraft had targeted a Hamas surveillance site east of Gaza City,” without mentioning any casualties.
Earlier in the day, Palestinian demonstrators faced off against Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, an AFP journalist reported.
Demonstrators set fire to tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers.
Three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Israel has imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the impoverished Palestinian enclave ever since the Islamist group Hamas seized control in 2007.
Thousands of Palestinian workers from Gaza have been prevented from entering Israel by the closure of the Erez crossing, which an Israeli NGO, Gisha, condemned as “collective punishment.”
Israel has issued work permits to some 18,500 Gazans, COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, said on Tuesday.
Since September 13, six Palestinians have been killed and nearly 100 wounded during violence at the border, according to figures from the health ministry in Gaza.
Armed conflict sporadically erupts between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip.
In May, an exchange of Israeli air strikes and Gaza rocket fire resulted in the deaths of 34 Palestinians and one Israeli.


Interview: Rosatom ready to take on competition for KSA’s nuclear energy requirements, says Russian exec

Interview: Rosatom ready to take on competition for KSA’s nuclear energy requirements, says Russian exec
Updated 24 September 2023

Interview: Rosatom ready to take on competition for KSA’s nuclear energy requirements, says Russian exec

Interview: Rosatom ready to take on competition for KSA’s nuclear energy requirements, says Russian exec
  • Kirill Komarov says the Russian state-owned company has almost 80 years of experience on nuclear energy development 
  • Adds that Rosatom has built 81 units with VVER reactors, which comply with all post-Fukushima safety requirements

Described as a recognized leader in the field of nuclear technologies, with a share of about 40 percent of the global market, the Russian state-owned corporation Rosatom is bidding to win a contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the Kingdom.
During an exclusive interview with Arab News, Kirill Komarov, Rosatom’s first deputy director general for corporate development and international business, spoke about the potential for Russian-Saudi cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and his company’s plans in the Kingdom.

What agreements currently exist between the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom and Saudi Arabia?

Our cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on an Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, signed in the summer of 2015. Since 2017, Saudi Arabia has been carefully working on the selection of a suitable technology for the first nuclear power plant in the Kingdom.
Rosatom, as one of the world’s leading vendors, is certainly part of this process. In addition, there is a program of cooperation in a number of promising areas: the nuclear fuel cycle, low-power reactors, nuclear science and technology centers.
We have great respect for the ambitious development goals that the Kingdom has formulated in the Saudi Vision 2030 program. Thanks to the unique experience, and significant scientific and technical base, we are confident that Rosatom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have many points of contact not only in the energy sector, but also in healthcare, environmental solutions and the creation of smart cities.

Which areas of cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear industry are most interesting and in demand?

Saudi Arabia has great potential in the development of both nuclear energy and non-energy applications of nuclear technologies. We see the interest of our Saudi partners in creating a full-fledged nuclear industry and building their own competencies.
I would also like to note the high level of development of the Saudi industry. It is, of course, ready to solve the complex tasks that production enterprises face when implementing projects in the field of nuclear energy and technology.
In this regard, the construction of a large-capacity nuclear power plant is, of course, a flagship for the development of the industry but it is equally important to develop infrastructure, the competence of specialists, and use all the capabilities and resources of Saudi Arabia in the field of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Being one of the global technology leaders, Rosatom State Corporation can offer its resources, competencies and almost 80 years of experience for the development of nuclear energy, in both energy and non-energy applications of nuclear technologies. Which of them to use is up to our partner to decide.
Saudi Arabia is actively seeking to develop its nuclear power industry. In particular, authorities want their own nuclear power plant. What could Russia offer in this regard? How strong is the competition for the implementation of such a project in the Kingdom?

Rosatom offers VVER-1200 reactors to its foreign partners. These reactors are operating all over the world. In total, Rosatom has built 81 units with VVER reactors. This is one of the most common types of reactor in the world today and, importantly, the safest. Nuclear power plants with reactors of this type comply with all post-Fukushima safety requirements.
The units based on the VVER-1200 reactors offered by Rosatom belong to the latest safety class, “3+,” and combine active and passive safety systems that make the NPP (nuclear power plant) as resistant to external and internal influences as possible.
One example of such systems is the “melt trap.” This is one of the main elements of the passive safety system of the power unit, the unique know-how of Russian nuclear scientists, which ensures safety for the environment and humans under any scenarios of NPP operation.
At the stages of design, construction and operation, a wide range of technical and organizational measures are also provided to prevent the development of emergency situations under any scenarios and their combinations.
Let me remind you that Rosatom was the first company to launch a generation 3+ nuclear power plant, in 2018. There are already five such reactors in operation, including one at the Belarusian NPP (BelAS power unit No. 2 is currently in the final stage of pilot operation). Nuclear power plants with VVER-1200, our flagship project, are being built in Bangladesh, Belarus, Hungary, Egypt and Turkey.
As for the competition, it certainly exists. Nevertheless, the position of our company in the world is obvious; Rosatom is one of the leaders of the global nuclear market, cooperating with partners in more than 60 countries around the world.
We have 33 power units at various stages of implementation in 10 countries; that is to say, we have more projects for the construction of reactors abroad than all of our competitors combined. We account for 85 percent of the world’s nuclear power plant exports. For 18 years, we have connected 18 power units around the world to the grid, as well as a floating nuclear power plant.
Rosatom is successfully developing nuclear power in Egypt. How is the implementation of this project going?

In Egypt, Rosatom is implementing the El-Dabaa NPP project, the first nuclear power plant in the country. It is the largest Rosatom project in Africa and is also one of the largest nuclear construction projects in the world.
The active phase of construction began last year, when the so-called “first concrete” was poured into the foundation of the first power unit. Today, the project is moving dynamically and in accordance with the directive schedule. We are already building three power units at the same time.
At the end of August this year, we received a license for the construction of the fourth block from the Egyptian supervisory authority, the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority. This allows us to proceed to the full-scale construction stage on the fourth block.

Which countries in the Arab world have approached Russia to express an interest in developing nuclear energy?

The Middle East and North Africa region is now one of the drivers of the development of nuclear energy. In addition to the implementation of large-scale projects for the construction of large-capacity nuclear power plants, we see a high interest among Arab partners in small-capacity nuclear power plants.
The region, rich in oil and gas, invests in the implementation of clean-generation projects while, despite the abundance of solar and wind resources, it is increasingly investing in the development of nuclear energy. This not only eloquently testifies to the irreplaceable role of nuclear energy in terms of the formation of a green energy balance for the future by these countries, but also fits into the global trend; interest in nuclear generation is steadily growing around the world, even in those countries that have not previously considered nuclear energy for themselves.
We are connected with Middle Eastern partners by decades of successful cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and not only that. Historically, Russia was the first country to lend a helping hand at the initial stage of the development of important national infrastructure and industrial programs in the region, from the construction of hydroelectric power plants and personnel training, to the first research reactors and the development of nuclear infrastructure.
Today, Rosatom’s competencies are absolutely in demand. Agreements on cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy of various formats have been signed with 16 countries in the region. The geography here is the most extensive: Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, etc.
Successful cooperation has been built with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation; Rosatom provides the Barakah NPP project with enriched uranium products.
In Egypt and Turkey, we are “turnkey” (a term referring to ready-to-go solutions that are relatively easier to deploy) implementing two of the world’s largest nuclear power plant construction projects, the El-Dabaa NPP and the Akkuyu NPP, respectively.
Throughout its history, the enterprises of the Russian nuclear industry have accumulated a unique set of products and solutions in the field of nuclear energy, which make it possible to successfully implement projects for the construction of nuclear power plants not only from A-to-Z, but also to provide support at any stage of their life cycle.
Based on our own experience, we are convinced that the long-term use of nuclear energy creates opportunities for improving the quality of life and the level of development of science and education. Rosatom is open for cooperation with all countries of the region and is ready to offer its expertise.

How does Rosatom cope with sanctions pressures?

Rosatom State Corporation itself is not on any sanctions list. We continue to actively engage in foreign nuclear projects; we are building 22 power units in seven countries. Only one nuclear power plant construction project abroad has been stopped. This is the Hanhikivi NPP in Finland, where the decision was made for purely political reasons. We are negotiating new nuclear power plant construction projects in various regions of the world.
In the nuclear fuel cycle sector, Rosatom retains world leadership: first place in uranium enrichment, second place in its production, and third in the fabrication of nuclear fuel. We continue to work in 60 countries around the world.
There are obvious logistical difficulties but as new routes are developed, they are overcome. Rosatom has sufficient resources and the necessary organizational flexibility to adapt to new business conditions.

Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan resume Nile dam talks

An aerial view Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Guba, northwest Ethiopia. (AFP file photo)
An aerial view Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Guba, northwest Ethiopia. (AFP file photo)
Updated 24 September 2023

Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan resume Nile dam talks

An aerial view Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Guba, northwest Ethiopia. (AFP file photo)
  • For years at loggerheads over the issue, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed in July to finalize a deal within four months, resuming talks in August

NAIROBI: Ethiopia said Saturday it had begun a second round of talks with Egypt and Sudan over a controversial mega-dam built by Addis Ababa on the Nile, long a source of tensions among the three nations.
Ethiopia this month announced the completion of the fourth and final filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, prompting immediate condemnation from Cairo, which denounced the move as illegal.
Egypt and Sudan fear the massive $4.2-billion dam will severely reduce the share of Nile water they receive and had repeatedly asked Addis Ababa to stop filling it until an agreement was reached.
For years at loggerheads over the issue, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed in July to finalize a deal within four months, resuming talks in August.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the three countries had opened a second round of negotiations in Addis Ababa.
“Ethiopia is committed to reaching a negotiated and amicable solution through the ongoing trilateral process,” it said.

Protracted negotiations over the dam since 2011 have thus far failed to bring about an agreement between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors.
Egypt has long viewed the dam as an existential threat, as it relies on the Nile for 97 percent of its water needs.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in an address to the UN General Assembly, said that Cairo wanted a “binding agreement” on the filling and operation of the dam.
“We remain in anticipation of our goodwill being reciprocated with a commitment from Ethiopia to arrive at an agreement that will safeguard the interests of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia,” Shoukry said.
“It would be a mistake to assume we can accept a fait accompli when it comes to the very lives of more than 100 million Egyptian citizens.”
The dam is central to Ethiopia’s development plans, and in February 2022 Addis Ababa announced that it had begun generating electricity for the first time.
At full capacity, the huge hydroelectric dam — 1.8 kilometers long and 145 meters high — could generate more than 5,000 megawatts.
That would double Ethiopia’s production of electricity, to which only half the country’s population of 120 million currently has access.
The position of Sudan, which is currently mired in a civil war, has fluctuated in recent years.
The United Nations says Egypt could “run out of water by 2025” and parts of Sudan, where the Darfur conflict was essentially a war over access to water, are increasingly vulnerable to drought as a result of climate change.