Neil on Africa: Ancient Egypt still thriving as source of pride for Africa
The oldest surviving work in mathematics was written by the ancient Egyptian scribe Ahmes, around 1650 BC. Found on the Rhine Mathematical Papyrus, it is titled “The Entrance into the Knowledge of All Existing Things and All Obscure Secrets”. The ancient Egyptians, who also invented clocks, were the first people to have a year consisting of 365 days divided into 12 months.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus called Egypt “the gift of the Nile”. This mighty river Nile, which flows north from the heart of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea is Egypt’s pride.
Unlike most other rivers, it flows south to north and it floods in the summer. Explorers only discovered the source of the Nile in East Africa just 150 years ago.
Mystery surrounds Egypt’s origin, its religion, and its monumental architecture: colossal temples, enormous Sphinx and the pyramids which are the only remaining wonder of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Even though Mexico, not Egypt, has the largest pyramid in the world in terms of volume, Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza remains more popular than the Cholula Pyramid (sometimes referred to as Quetzalcoatl) of Mexico, which was built around the year AD 100.
Today, Egypt is the world’s most populous Arab country and the third most populous nation in Africa (Nigeria, first, and Ethiopia, second).
Cairo, situated on both banks of the Nile, is Egypt’s commercial and cultural centre as well as the seat of the government.
Egypt’s second most important waterway is the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez, an arm of the Red Sea. The canal is one of the world’s chief commercial waterways. The canal and the Isthmus of Suez are the traditional boundaries between Africa and Asia.
Egypt’s economy was highly centralised during the rule of former president Gamal Abdel Nasser, but opened considerably under former presidents Anwar el-Sadat and Mohamed Hosni Mubarak.
Agriculture, hydrocarbons, manufacturing, tourism, and other service sectors drove the country’s relatively diverse economic activity. Egypt’s economy is growing rapidly.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew to 5.6percent in the third quarter of 2019 against 5.4percent in the same period of 2017-2018.
The North African state is now targeting 6percent GDP growth in the 2019/20 fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30. The country’s economic freedom score is 52.5 points, making its economy the 144th freest in 2019 and is ranked 11th among 14 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Egypt’s single biggest donor is the US government, which has provided more than $25 billion (R398.3bn) in economic assistance since 1975.
On the “Neil economic scale”, a can of Coke costs E£3.50 (R3.18) and a litre petrol is E£8.75 (R7.96).
Egypt’s inflation rate is the lowest annual inflation rate in recent records. It plunged from 17.5percent in October 2018 to 2.4percent in October 2019.
It is amazing to imagine that an ancient civilisation like Egypt’s invented toothpaste, paper, as well as keys and locks. And before Facebook came to Egypt to showcase user identification, forensic fingerprint powder had been used for fingerprints. Yip, the world’s oldest synthetic pigment produced by yours truly - ancient Egyptians, proud Africa.
Neil De Beer is the current president of the IFA and advises numerous African states on economic development. www.ifa.africa or [email protected]