On 19 March 2017, the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Dr. Sahar Nasr launched Upper Egypt's Development Program financed by the Word Bank (WB) with USD 500 million, in presence of Eng. Tarek Qabil, Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Mezra Hassan, Executive Director of the WB, Mr. Asad Alam, WB Country Director for Egypt, Gen. Abdel Hamid El-Haggan, Governor of Qena, and Dr. Ayman Abdel Moneim, Governor of Souhag. 
 
The program, indicated Dr. Nasr, came within the framework of the President's directives to realize the equal distribution of economic resources so as to improve standards of living in the most lagging regions. 
 
The program aims to raise economic growth and achieve the private sector-led development so as to create further sustainable job opportunities through improving the business climate and supporting the infrastructure necessary for the growth of various productive sectors. This is in addition to developing a group of industries based on comparative advantages, especially in the fields of food industries and relevant value chains as well as furniture and wood furniture industry, along with laying emphasis on all other productive areas in Upper Egypt’s industrial areas and providing basic services and infrastructure to citizens in selected governorates in Upper Egypt such as water, sanitation, roads and natural gas connections, besides supporting local units in providing such services sustainably with the required quality.
 
According to Dr. Nasr, Qena and Souhag were chosen to be the cornerstone of the program based on a set of criteria, namely the population size, poverty rates, geographical proximity, and economic capacities. 
 
Moreover, the Minister said that the program would be used in injecting investments in the areas where the program would be implemented with the aim to provide youth and women with job opportunities, while adding that coordination would be conducted with the Ministry of Trade and Industry with regard to including the investment areas within the investment map being developed by MIIC. Dr. Nasr further thanked the WB's teamwork. 
 
For his part, Eng. Qabil announced that, at the beginning of the next month, 8 complexes, each will cover 300 thousand meters, would be offered with licenses in Aswan, Luxor, Qena, Assuit, Souhag, Minia, Beni Suef and Fayoum Governorates. 
 
The Minister of Trade said that the establishment of such complexes came to implement the President’s directives announced during the Second National Youth Conference held in Aswan during January. Such directives included the establishment of 200 small factories in Upper Egypt’s governorates, added the Minister, emphasizing that the achievement of comprehensive development in Upper Egypt topped the government’s priorities. 
 
The program, according to Eng. Qabil, aimed to raise the industrial development rates in Souhag and Qena Governorates and to focus on the competitive advantages of each governorate so as to attract further local and foreign investments there, especially in light of the state’s great support of Upper Egypt’s development. The Minister indicated that such goals were emphasized by the decisions of the Supreme Council for Investment chaired by the President, including granting free industrial lands in all Upper Egypt’s governorates to encourage further investments.
 
The Ministry of Trade, indicated Eng. Qabil, took a number of preliminary procedures to commence the project’s implementation, including the appointment of the director of the program coordination office, the use of the Industrial Modernization Center to finalize the development of a report evaluating the WB’s performance and the finalization of the program’s procurement guidelines, besides providing technical support to the program coordination office and to both governorates. This is in addition to developing an administration development plan of the industrial zones in both governorates in collaboration with the WB consultant and setting the criteria based on which the industrial zones will be chosen, namely the production size, the annual production value, economic revenue (potential labors and the number of productive units) and the ease of implementation. 
 
Eng. Qabil added that a report on the industrial cities’ requirements of utilities was being developed through the Industrial & Mining Organization (IMC) (affiliated to the Ministry of Trade), besides finalizing the development of an investment map for both governorates for the fiscal year 2017\ 2018 and commencing the staff capacity development program in both governorates.       
Moreover, Eng. Qabil gave an overview of the executive steps taken with regard to the industrial investment map, which first phase was launched in mid-February and included 7 governorates in Upper Egypt. He explained that the second phase would include the governorates of Lower Egypt, starting with Menoufia, Qalubiya and Fayoum, to reach total investment opportunities of approximately 1250 ones in various industrial sectors. 
 
The program aimed to maximize the number of beneficiaries in order to provide great job opportunities, said Dr. Hassan, while adding that it was important to connect between sustainable development and Upper Egypt's program. 
 
In addition, the Governor of Sohag stated that the geographic nature of Upper Egypt's governorates was studied during the development of the program, indicating that some projects that require infrastructure were not included in the program.  
The Governor of Qena also mentioned that they aimed to render Qena and Sohag Governorates an example for the development of Upper Egypt, noting that the remaining governorates would be completed during the upcoming phase.