The Egyptian government will start the process in December of moving offices to a new administrative capital located east of Cairo, a spokesman for the presidency said on Wednesday.
Authorities are planning a “smart city” where residents will use smart cards and apps to unlock doors and make payments, and surf the web on public WiFi beamed from lampposts.
A network of at least 6,000 cameras will monitor activity on every street, tracking pedestrians and vehicles to regulate traffic and report suspicious activity.
Its design is a world away from parts of the existing sprawling capital, where creaking infrastructure can mean patchy internet and phone coverage, doormen at densely built apartment blocks form a human network of look-outs, and administrative errands can involve hours of queuing.
The city being built from scratch in the desert – so far called the New Administrative Capital – is designed to hold 6.5 million residents and is expected to open to its first civil servants later this year.
How much Egypt’s centre of gravity shifts from Cairo to the new capital, 45 km from the Nile, is unclear. For many ordinary Egyptians, for whom the bustling city has been home for generations, the move and cost would be unthinkable.
But for those who do make the switch, they are promised a single app for paying utility bills, accessing local services, and reporting complaints and problems.