Egypt and Space.

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Egypt and Space.

Post by Hafiz »

Egypt is to join the Space Race (just satellites) launch its own (it currently has 2/3 which were launched by others and are probably (its unclear) managed by them - including (very unclear) their military intelligence and military communications) and get involved in related manufacturing and all the jobs and wealth that comes from this. Can it get any better?

Its to be a new miracle based on high science, good management, truth, careful attention to meticulous detail, value added manufacturing and local skills – what could go wrong. So I thought I’d check it out.

Egypt has is no proven competence in high science or in satellites but the industry will, according to the Minister, grow astronomically, employ many and become equivalent to tourism in contribution to national wealth in just a seven years.

There will also be a lot of debt – what’s new and detail should never deflect from vision. Only anti-patriots ask questions.

The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research recently said this to MP’s:

1. A satellite will be launched by Egypt (with help from China and Japan) in July 2018
2. 70% of the components of the July 2018 satellite will be ‘manufactured’ in Egypt
3. (Contradictory to the 2018 launch) The local satellite manufacturing capacity “is expected to be complete in the year 2020”.
4. (Specifically) The “satellite’s control unit and three-metre-wide camera will be locally manufactured”. (Not sure these are local areas of proven manufacturing achievements in the very high tech end of the market.)
5. There is to be a new Satellite City built on the Cairo-Suez Road and costing god knows what and paid for by I don’t know who.
6. “in seven years Egypt’s space and satellite technology city will contribute at least 10 percent to the national income,” said Abdel-Ghaffar (the Minister) , adding that “in some countries like England, the space agency contributes 16 percent to GDP.”
11. (vague and unclear) The President will be associated/manage/oversee this great initiative.
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent ... -year.aspx

(In the media report some of the related comments by senior MP’s show gross competence in the field they claim competence in – and misstatement of fact, wild optimism and a belief in silver bullets - or silver satellites)

There is no mention by the Minister of how much this will cost (but we know it will cost a very, very large amount) or how it is to be funded/who the debt is owed to/will government even contribute 10%. equity. The source of the skills to do it is unclear.

The truth is very different. Here are the facts that can be verified – (few local claims about local facts can be verified but facts about the world can).

THE United Kingdom Space Agency (an agency of the UK Government) which should know a little about its own area of responsibility over the decades says that after decades, some of the best science universities in the world, some of the best advanced manufacturing in the world and access to capital and companies wanting to buy satellite time the UK performance is actually minor and a small fraction of what the Egyptian Minister claims.

In summary:

“The industry directly contributed £5.1 billion Gross Value-Added to UK economic output (0.27%of total UK GDP), (not the 16% claimed by the Egyptian Minister so he has overstated it 59 times) and a total of £10.0 billion (including effects on the supply chain) in 2014/15.

Total direct employment in the UK space industry increased at a rate of 6.0% per annum to 38,522 jobs in 2014/15 (0.12% of the total UK workforce), and a total employment supported of 113,866” https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... eport-2016

So the Minister is wrong and overstates easily verifiable facts by 59 times and believes that Egypt can do this right away, and from nothing, and with no background and few local skills – including at a Ministerial level. If he is wrong about such a basic fact can he be wrong about more complex things. If he had correctly stated the facts the rational aspirations of Egypt would be minor - 0.27% of GDP (at best) and hardly worth making much of – let alone connecting the (soon to be up for re-election) President. I think the looming election might be an issue - or maybe getting a few people to bother to vote which was the big problem last time.

There is scant information about the Minister but he is probably in his mid 50’s, a dentist, has never studied outside Egypt but rose quickly to a senior administrative position in Ain Shams University http://www.amcham.org.eg/information-re ... pt-cabinet which rates somewhere in the world in the region of 800-1000th. In emerging economies its somewhere in the region 251-300th. Al Ahram says he headed up Dentistry at Ain Shams from 2014. Little else is known about him – which is nothing odd about the leadership/high corporate figures/senior bureaucrats in Egypt – maybe there are National Security issues.

One of the Minister’s stated priorities is to reverse the ‘brain drain’ and he believes the satellite program might help this. He seems to give little weight to the economic and personal needs of Egyptians with a brain, a set of legs, ambition and a desire to be free. In the al Ahram report one MP states that over 90% of Egyptians with relevant skills have left the country. He gives a very small number - just over 100 of whom very few have stayed - which tells you a lot about the size of the local skill base - microscopic when compared with 38,000 in the UK. The requirement to do it only with Egyptian DNA shows an odd approach to the world not shared my many other countries. In this case who assumes that any western country does its current space program from only local DNA (maybe Brexiteers do). In the case of the USA their 60's space program was substantially based on non-nationals - many former NAZI scientists removed summarily to the USA after the war. What country thinks that doing something it has never done before can/should be done from only nationals. Its an odd, racist/xenophobic (and maybe deeply insecure) approach which says you only do it yourself, exclude 'outsiders' - but if you do it this way there will be doubtful outcomes. If you want to do something new, expensive and risky you get the best people - from wherever.

Maybe 2500 years of foreign invasion/domination have produced twisted attitudes about outsiders?

Over statement/promising by Ministers is not unique to Egypt but usually smart Ministers are cautious to avoid facts that can easily be checked. In Egypt over promising by factors of 5/10/20 isn’t unusual and I wonder why. Here are some possibilities. A general culture which promotes overstatement, a need to win support from an alienated electorate, a need to look big to arouse local respect, really bad/incompetent bureaucratic advice, a complete disregard for the truth, looming elections or a conviction that the local media won’t bother to spend 10 seconds to check. Maybe there is also a conviction that no MP's will contradict you in public - whatever is going on in their mind. Maybe there is no political opposition - and no scientists or academics who will contradict you?

It would be interesting to know whether private conversations with Ministers/officials are quiet and rational and if the 'wind' is just for local consumption. However when you look at speeches in, say the UN, they are very windy and must do little to build trust by the world in the country. Maybe a lot of multinationals stay away for a similar reasons. Is it more than windy rhetoric - a windy mind?



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Re: Egypt and Space.

Post by newcastle »

There's so much one could pick at in the Al Ahram article that Hafiz can be excused for overlooking :

"Shiha said just like Pakistan and India were able to attract their native scientists working in the nuclear field to build local nuclear projects, Egypt will be also be able to join the world’s space and nuclear clubs very soon.

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said India’s famous nuclear scientist Abu Al-Kalam Azad has become a president of India."

The president of India has somewhat less power than Queen Elizabeth II of UK...but no matter. India has long been a generator of world famous scientists. It has produced 12 Nobel laureates. Mentioning it, with regard to scientific achievement, in the same breath as Egypt borders on the obscene.

One can only hope that Shiha's reference to "nuclear clubs" is directed at nuclear energy rather than weaponry.

Mentioning that Abdul Al- Karam was a muslim only serves to highlight the differences between the nations. I wonder how long it will be before a Christian (or a woman for that matter) ascends to Egypt's highest political office.

One glimmer of realism appears in the article :

"As far as I know, we have 118 Egyptian scientists in this field, but more than 100 left the country in past years to join space projects in other countries,” said El-Sewedi ( head of the pro-government Support Egypt parliamentary bloc)

Well....I suppose 18 is a start. One can only express wonder that ANYONE in the field of science, who largely receives their education and training abroad, returns to Egypt. It's testimony to the deep ties of culture and family apparent amongst the Egyptians - and nothing to do with the job opportunities in their country of birth. One suspects that the few who do return are from wealthy families and the paltry salaries available to them in Egypt are of no consequence.

It's sad to see Al Ahram, once a venerable newspaper respected both in Egypt and the Arab world, reduced to publishing these puff pieces. Nowadays it's no more than an emasculated organ of state propaganda whose content, at times, looks like the product of the office cleaners during their tea break.

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Re: Egypt and Space.

Post by Hafiz »

Newcastle - Thanks....but.

I didn't overlook the Pakistan nuclear activity' - it isn't relevant to the Egypt Space race except in the confused minds of Egyptian politicians and journalists. Anyway the Pakistan nuclear story leads to a very dark place - as I guess you know - that includes North Korea, Iran, Syria and Libya - and all that. Therefore if I followed that mouse I'd be doing what Egyptian politicians and journalists do - wander off into irrelevant but seemingly interesting bull. At the very least the Egyptian politician that mentioned it - failed to note a difference between 2 distinct areas of science - showed poor judgement in even mentioning it because of the appalling damage the Pakistan nuclear program has caused - then got entirely confused and moved from a Muslim country to a Hindu country that hates Muslims and has fought multiple wars with them etc. The man is an idiot and never talk to idiots or be drawn into rebutting their mad/confused views.

I think you miss my major point. Big plans, small minds, big bucks, big promises, small need,

When you are a small volatile third world country depending on aid and with little to sell the world you usually focus on needs - the needs of the people. Ideas like the Space Race don't seem to about need - more like the casual drunken conversations of soccer idiots - mine is bigger than yours.

I also made a simple point about truth telling and exaggeration.

I had hoped - with no success so far - to get the opinion of those with decades of deep Egyptian experience on the general question of overstatement and insecurity and the related question of racial exclusivity. I live in hope.

I am surprised that you are surprised about al Ahram - it died more than 70 years ago when Nassar stole it from its independent Lebanese owners, gave them no compensation, nationalized it and then expelled them from Egypt following which he established a one voice, one party military led state which still exists in slightly altered form to today.

I also tried to suggest that wild promises of implausible things are quite common - and never even questioned even if the numbers don't add up.

I am also interested about personal experiences about senior Egyptians (not attributed to any particular individuals) and whether the wild theatrical rhetoric is abandoned in private - although Wikileaks indicates that most world diplomats think not and many have negative (to put it mildly) views about the personal and moral characteristics of senior Egyptians - including, in very extreme terms, the current FM and current senior advisors to the President on strategic issues. My point on this matter was: is this wild stuff just rhetoric or is a widespread state of mind - including within the ruling class. If its the latter then time is up.

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Re: Egypt and Space.

Post by newcastle »

I think you miss my major point. Big plans, small minds, big bucks, big promises, small need,
I don't think I do my friend. Not commenting on them shouldn't be equated with overlooking them.

They represent a consistent theme in many of your posts concerning the current government....and I wouldn't disagree.

I cant say I've had any personal experiences with senior Egyptians although I've taken some interest in, and read quite widely, the history of the country post 1952...and not just the bare bones but social commentary. As you probably know, getting any accurate facts about who did what, or said what, at any time is more or less impossible. And Egyptian society is a renowned rumour mill. Coffee house gossip amongst all strata of society is a national pastime.

My impression?

The same as yours I suspect. Certainly since 1952 the country has been governed by individuals of dubious intellect and with a moral compass sorely in need of adjustment.

Self-interest is a predominant human trait and those in charge of Egypt have had it in spades....if not for themselves personally, then for the particular clique of which they were a part.

The 2011 revolution presented an opportunity for a change of direction, but the opportunity was missed, largely because the forces of change - apart from the Muslim Brotherhood - were leaderless. Those of a more intellectual, secular/liberal orientation had either succumbed to, and joined, the corrupted elite or emigrated. The country was faced with a theocracy...or a return to military supervised governance. It wisely chose the latter.

It's depressing to say so, but I see little prospect for change in the decades ahead. Egypt's lack of natural resources, lack of an education system worthy of the name and with the crippling burden of over-population doesn't auger well for anything but a continuation of the status quo.

With mealy-mouthed intellectual lightweights, uttering palpable nonsense to a gullible public who will probably tolerate them until another crisis triggers another revolution. Revolutions are not uncommon if you look at Egypt's history.

One can only hope it's as (relatively) bloodless as the last one.

Those of a more optimistic disposition can look forward to a country growing in international stature, with a revised legal structure giving rise to increased inward investment. a burgeoning economy fueled by the alumni of a reformed education system and a healthy population which has embraced the concept of family planning.

Dream on......

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Re: Egypt and Space.

Post by Major Thom »

Another PUKKA idea, or should I say PIE IN THE SKY. The more you read the more you understand that its getting a lot like N, Korea, fancy having 2 rocket men on the go at the same time. The more they act in a stupid way the more they waste money, the more the West will look closer at the aid they are providing. And rightly so!!!

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Re: Egypt and Space.

Post by Dusak »

A spy in the sky by the sounds of it. I remember many years ago when a satellite was launched bearing the new generation of optics, optics so powerful that it could read the headlines of a newspaper in the street. Japan, as highlighted on a program on the NHK channel, are developing an optical lens so powerful that it will be able to zoom in on an insect. They already have one with the capacity of reading the small print on a newspaper. This would be a very handy tool to have in a neuroticism based country.
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Re: Egypt and Space.

Post by Hafiz »

Dusak - you are a prophet - a prophet for countries that want to keep tabs on everything - which I guess would be your last desire.

The Chinese have developed a face recognition technology which allows them to identify any citizen in seconds which is useful given they have millions of street based cameras following every human move. Sorry to use The Guardian - it was the quickest to find: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... s-watching

Apparently they will be offering this technology to their allies - who are the worst countries but with similar objectives to China in relation to their 'citizens'.

Maybe Egypt will start to install a million or two street cameras?

Can I make a suggestion. The proper treatment of neuroticism is careful drugs and some talking therapy - not new very expensive IT technology. But what do I know about insecure boys and their need for large, shiny new toys. Alas the military all over the world is a bit the same - which is why we put them under civilian control and review their toy shopping list with suspicion. Mad generals - a long list which includes Curtis Le May, Paton (from time to time) and MacArthur (most of the time). The list of neurotic UK generals is too long to list. Australia had mad ones (unsure) but the worst were just drunks and morally corrupt.

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Re: Egypt and Space.

Post by newcastle »

Maybe Egypt will start to install a million or two street cameras?
In some ways, it's puzzling that they are not used to anything like the same extent as in the West. It's not as if it's cutting edge technology or horrendously expensive.

It would certainly help in the detection and apprehension of criminals and resolving "who did what" in public disorder situations.

But therein lies the problem.

What if you prefer the crime NOT to be detected and the culprits brought to book?

What if you prefer the judges to accept simply what the police maintained went on at some rally which got out of hand?

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Re: Egypt and Space.

Post by Major Thom »

A very good post Newc. I am sure the Authorities will agree entirely.

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