The Upper Egypt Local Development Program (UELDP) was established in 2017 to support the government’s attempts to develop Upper Egypt, a region in the country’s south where development has lagged, by strengthening the local business environment. This has boosted private-sector employment creation and increased local government infrastructure and service delivery capabilities.
The initiative, which is a unique pilot for spatially coordinated economic growth and service delivery, delivers results-based financing in the governorates of Sohag, Qena, Minya, and Assiut, and integrates citizen and corporate participation for enhanced local responsibility.
It was highlighted as an example of excellent practice among development efforts aiming at attaining the universal targets set out in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 2021.
The programme has also been identified as an important contributor to the Egyptian government’s FY2018/19–FY2021/22 programming.
Egypt’s population surpassed 100 million in early 2020, with Upper Egypt accounting for one-third of the country’s population. However, in terms of economic growth, job creation, market connectedness, and access to quality services, the region lag behind the rest of the country. Almost half of Egypt’s impoverished live there, and the program’s four governorates are among the poorest in the country. The UELDP has worked to correct this lag in development since its inception.
Governorates’ capacity for inter-sectoral, medium-term capital investment planning; project design, evaluation, and implementation; environmental and social risk management; and the long-term sustainability of local infrastructure through asset management have all increased as a result of the programme. Infrastructure has been built to improve inhabitants’ quality of life, with a focus on urban development, city upgrades, and fundamental municipal services (water, sanitation, roads, and electricity).
In the first two governorates, the program’s infrastructure and services are projected to have reached nearly 5 million inhabitants, or one-third of the population. Women make up half of the anticipated beneficiaries.
Introduced a holistic approach to enhancing local competitiveness. Improving government-to-business (G2B) services by issuing shop licenses and construction permits; encouraging sector competitiveness through locally-driven Public-Private Dialogues targeting four clusters (textiles, sugar cane, embroidery, and furniture); and improving management and services in local industrial zones are just a few examples. By 2021, these initiatives had benefited over 3,300 local businesses, with the occupancy rate in industrial zones increasing by 20 percentage points in Qena and 5 percentage points in Sohag since 2017.
The objective is to provide investors with more efficient services at technology centers that act as hubs for registering development plans and getting building licenses and permits. To date, the programme has shortened the time it takes to get building permits in various District Service Centers by at least 25%.
Through a participative process, citizens and businesses will be more engaged. Regular consultations involve citizens, especially women and adolescents, in the selection of investment projects. Over 8,500 local residents took part, nearly a third of them were women, and their opinion influenced the projects included in the annual budget.
By publicly disclosing official records that were previously unpublished, including governorates’ yearly budgets, audit reports, procurement plans, citizen feedback reports, and complaint resolution data, the programme has enhanced public access to information—and the degree of transparency involved. A new grievance system in the programme addresses citizen complaints about local services.
Investor Forums in industrial zones and sector competitiveness initiatives, where local businesses build action plans to overcome the constraints they encounter, have been hosted by local businesses to define their objectives.