Exterior of one of the key institutions in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital – the Central Bank of Egypt’s new Cash Center
#Cash

New megacity showcases vision for Egypt’s future

Global Trends
5 Mins.

A vision for a modern Egypt is rising from the desert sands, at an incredible pace and on a vast scale: 45 km east of Cairo, the New Administrative Capital, where 6 million people will live and work, is coming to life. It will be the new seat for the country’s government, with all key institutions in one place, and include modern business centers, high-speed train connections, a new airport, and a leisure area twice the size of New York’s Central Park. As the authority overseeing the country’s financial system and currency, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is embracing the opportunity to relocate its headquarters and create a new large-scale currency hub in the new city, complete with printworks and a connected, highly automated cash management center – a project realized by G+D as the CBE’s trusted general contractor.

The Pyramids of Giza, the Temples of Karnak, the Great Library of Alexandria, the Suez Canal, the Aswan High Dam: Egypt has a long and illustrious association with some of the most ambitious construction projects ever seen. And it’s a tradition that continues to this day.

An hour’s drive from the bustling city of Cairo, a new city is emerging from the desert – an astonishing urban development that is destined to be the country’s New Administrative Capital (NAC).

Initiated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in 2015, the city is taking shape at breathtaking speed. With the first of the three planned phases of the NAC largely completed, government ministries, business centers, foreign embassies, and future residents are all preparing to make the move from Cairo and other Egyptian municipalities, drawn to a development whose scale and ambition is hard to comprehend.

A vision of a future Egypt

Covering an area of more than 700 km2 – roughly the size of Singapore – the NAC is designed to create a progressive, modern city with digital-enabled infrastructure, which will be the home to 5 to 7 million people. As well as helping to relieve the intense congestion of Cairo, with its densely packed population of an estimated 25 million, the NAC is designed to showcase Egypt’s modern outlook and strengthening economic potential, as well as help it keep pace with one of the world’s fastest-growing populations.

The NAC will boast a skyscraper-rich business district, including Africa’s tallest building, a large tech park, an international airport, a smart mass transport system, 2,000 educational establishments, 600 medical centers, 1,250 mosques, 40,000 hotel rooms, plus an artificial river/lake complex running through the city and several large parks.

The NAC, part of the wider Egypt Vision 2030 program, will also be the new home for the country’s government, its public administration ministries, and all of its key financial institutions.

New center for the Egyptian pound

With Egypt’s young population and strong commercial outlook, the presence of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) at the heart of the New Administrative Capital is an important symbol of the vision for technology-driven modernization. In making the move, the CBE saw the opportunity to transform the management of cash in the country by creating a state-of-the art printworks and cash center, built as a connected and highly automated currency hub.

Inside view of the Central Bank of Egypt’s new Cash Center, created with G+D – a key part Egypt’s New Administrative Capital
Inside the Central Bank of Egypt’s new Cash Center, built in partnership with G+D – a key component of the country’s New Administrative Capital

The CBE’s commitment reflects the fact that Egypt is still very much a cash economy. Demand for cash among its citizens and countless small and mid-sized businesses – as both as a payment instrument and a store of value – is running high. In the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, cash in circulation grew by 24% to 603 billion Egyptian pounds (EGP); by 2025 cash in circulation is projected to rise to EGP 1,007 billion.1 But as well as supporting the growth of cash, a key part of the CBE’s strategy has been to improve the quality of cash in circulation.

To provide an end-to-end solution that would secure the country’s complete cash cycle – from infrastructure and banknote design, to printing, storage, and distribution of currency – the central bank turned to Germany’s G+D. It appointed the global leader in secure payments as general contractor to build and coordinate the large critical infrastructure to the highest physical and digital security standards.

From banknote printing in Giza to an integrated currency hub in the NAC

G+D has a longstanding relationship with the CBE. The company designed Egypt’s first printing plant in Giza near Cairo – a facility that has been in operation since the 1960s. However, the operation was always highly manual and over the years the case for modernization has only grown. In contrast, the new printworks and cash processing center at the NAC represent a huge leap to automation and digitalization, delivering much greater efficiency, quality of production, and security.

Supporting the overall design and construction of the new central bank headquarters in the NAC, G+D was able to demonstrate its ability to build a cash-printing plant and corresponding processing center from scratch, based on cutting-edge cash management technology. After five years of multi-phased construction and installation, G+D handed over the brand-new complex to the CBE on a turnkey basis.

Highlighting the close collaboration between the CBE and G+D, the project was truly turnkey. As part of an ongoing contract, G+D has provided:

  • the design of the complete solutions for the printworks and cash center
  • all the specialist equipment for both
  • the design of an integrated physical security system
  • on-site service support for up to five years
  • training of CBE technical teams
  • the creation of four new regional cash centers

There were plenty of challenges to overcome with the project. G+D had to effectively create a new cash production, sorting, and distribution facility in a city that was still itself under development.

Bringing the project to fruition during the COVID-19 pandemic was perhaps the biggest challenge, requiring the adoption of a whole new set of processes and project management in order to achieve its goals and timelines. That included the adoption of remote approval and sign-off procedures for different phases of the project.

Future-proofing the cash lifecycle

The building of the CBE facilities in the NAC sets up Egypt to have a robust cash life cycle that will support its ambitions for modernization and growth. The four complete printing lines in CBE’s printworks are capable of printing up to 5 billion notes per year. And the new cash processing facility can handle up to 20 million banknotes per day but is scalable to up to 100 million notes per day.

The economic benefits of the investment for the country are also convincing: a more efficient cash cycle, an increasingly reliable supply of cash, higher-quality and more secure banknotes in circulation, and a sustained high level of trust in cash.

 
  1. International Monetary Fund Country Report: Arab Republic of Egypt 2021, International Monetary Fund, 2021

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