Tuesday, 1 February 2011


I have been lucky enough to spend some time in Egypt over the past few years. The image that many westerners have rooted in the ancient past - pyramids, pharoahs, Cleopatra, and just maybe Indiana Jones. As a country it is often seen as a tourist destination with the historical sites competing with the amazing coast line down at Sharm El Sheikh.

These are all a part of the truth. Other parts are that it is a country of some 80 million people, which makes it the second or third largest African nation (after Nigeria and maybe Ethiopia), with 8% of the population of the entire continent. More than half of the population is under 25 (certainly under 30) and it often feels like the other half drives a taxi in Cairo.

Egypt looks both east to the Middle East, and South to Africa. It is a strong economy on a continent that has few of them. Politically it has been relatively stable if not free and open.
The possible paths for Egypt range from the good (a democracy along the lines of Turkey), the middling (retaining the current structures), and the poor (constant disruption and disorder).

However the current crisis turns out politically, I hope that for the Egyptian people it becomes an event that they can build and develop on rather a cause of ongoing instability. Africa, the Middle East and the world need that.

No comments: