29 Apr. - 5 May 1999
Issue No. 427
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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Sir-Mr Mohamed Sid-Ahmed's article (Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-29 April) on the Egypt 2020 project was both informative and stimulating. However, as principal investigator of this project, I would like to add a few observations, which respond to some of the questions raised in that article, and thereby clarify the project's objectives and methodology.
First, the Egypt 2020 project does not attempt to construct an image of what Egypt would look like in the year 2020. The project is also not concerned with predicting Egypt's future, nor is it trying to provide a vision of "a desirable Egypt" in the year 2020. Our point of departure is Egypt's concrete societal reality, in which various programmes for Egypt's development are being put forward by different social and political forces.
This is the real source of the five scenarios initially formulated by our project, rather than any abstract assumptions, or preconceived ideas. Our aim is to put such programmes to the test, by working out the implications of each programme's social, economic, political and cultural orientations for the future of Egypt up to the year 2020.
To this end, we use a mix of quantitative and qualitative techniques, which allow the advocates of competing programmes to have a say in what we think their programmes entail, and logically lead to in the coming two decades. By publishing the results of our five scenarios, and stimulating dialogue around them, we hope that the public at large as well as intellectuals and political activists would be better informed and better placed to assess competing programmes for shaping Egypt's future. In effect, people will be thus empowered to enter into enlightened discussions about the future, and to participate in creating the future they desire for Egypt.
Second, our investigation of Egypt's future is by no means limited to Egypt's internal conditions. Regional and international factors are currently being studied, through seven sub-projects. Egypt's future in any scenario is naturally the outcome of dialectical relationships among internal, regional and international developments. However, we do not assume that external elements are the decisive factor in shaping Egypt's future in all scenarios. Rather, we believe that internal factors play a crucial role even in determining the extent and intensity of external factors' influence on Egyptian affairs.
In any case, one objective of our project is to explore and visualise scenarios which broaden the room for manoeuvre available to Egyptian policy-makers in the international environment, so that Egypt could share more actively in the making of its future.
Third, the state of natural resources in general, and water resources in particular, are receiving great attention in our project, for the reasons stated in Mr Sid-Ahmed's article. We are fully aware of the water constraint on Egypt's development. A number of studies have been undertaken by the project to deal with the intricate and interrelated questions of water, land, food supply, economic and social development, and national security. In investigating these topics, due account will be taken of recent and expected technological innovations.
Finally, given the project's participatory approach in studying alternative Egyptian futures, I would like to invite all individuals, groups and organisations interested in discussing Egypt's future to express their views on the project and its publications.
Our e-mail is: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Institute of National Planning/
Third World Forum
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