Egypt Is Building Africa’s Tallest Building

Egypt Is Building Africa’s Tallest Building

On one of the last patches of land along the Nile River in central Cairo, Egypt is constructing Africa’s tallest building. In a difficult feat of engineering, the project will twist from a thin triangular base to form a rectangular tower, rising 70 stories and providing a panoramic view of the Nile River and the pyramids. The 300-meter project is meant as a monument with a message: after years of instability, Egypt is ready for investment. Designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid in 2007, the “Nile Tower” will be part of a plan to transform the area between downtown Cairo and the Nile River into an upscale district. The bill for the project is set at $600 million, though it’s likely to cost nearly $150 million more, according to Diaa Tantawy, the Design Manager at Living in Interiors, the company developing the building. As Egypt pushes through economic reforms, the Egyptian pound has weakened, making imported building materials significantly more expensive. And yet despite the cost, developers are breaking ground, because the construction sector is crucial to driving growth in the domestic economy and is key to the government’s plan for successful reforms. Currently, there are 1,400 active construction projects in Egypt, valued at $248.2 billion.

The project was first championed a decade ago under former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, but was put on hold in the aftermath of the revolution that ousted him from office in 2011. Now the building has gained support from current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is working with the developer to get proper clearance for design aspects like the building’s height. In terms of making the scheme financially viable, the development is seeking investors from across Europe.

The Nile Tower is meant to transmit a message of growth outside the country. Says Tantawy, “It will change how the whole world sees Egypt. We are now strong, the leader of Africa and the Middle East, you can invest with us.”

According to the project’s current plan, the top 36 floors will be apartments, the middle 18 floors will be a hotel with approximately 230 rooms, and the remaining floors below will be reserved for amenities like a casino, night club, spa, health club and shopping area. The building is designed with a glass façade in front, and shades in the back, shielding tenants from the development.

Over the next few years, the Maspero sector is slated to become the “new modern Cairo.” However, the Nile Tower also shows that this new Cairo has roots in the past. As projects planned before the revolution rise into the sky, development plans are picking up where it left off.