Is Egypt’s marble + granite industry on its way to becoming a key contributor to our exports? After years of falling by the wayside, the government is turning its eyes to the marble and granite industry as it hopes to turn the Shaq El Tebaan — the largest marble and granite industrial cluster in the country — into a hub for the production and export of the stones. Recent moves from the government are making industry players optimistic that their sector is on its way to being resuscitated, with several key issues being addressed while paving the way for tech modernization and infrastructural improvements.
A look at the industry: The broad majority of the marble + granite industry is concentrated in the Shaq El Tebaan in Maadi’s Tora area, east of the Autostrad road. The area is comprised of three primary areas: Kotsika, Badr El Laithy, and Shaq El Tebaan, together spanning 1.6k feddans. The area brings together 1,868 factories and workshops all dedicated to manufacturing and exporting marble, with some 45k direct workers and almost as many indirect workers. Shaq El Tebaan has historically been struggling from a lack of attention and development, leading to several compounding issues, but continues to be the hub from which Egypt exports its marble to 118 countries.
Export figures: Egypt has exported some EGP 11.2 bn worth of marble over the course of the first nine months of 2023, according to data from the Building Materials Export Council seen by Enterprise. That’s compared to EGP 4.5 bn during the same period last year, although these figures have not been adjusted for currency fluctuations. Libya and Saudi Arabia accounted for the largest volume of our exports during the period, the data indicated.
Despite having plenty of potential, the industry isn’t without its problems: Industry players Enterprise spoke with pointed to a number of key challenges, including that many workshops in Shaq El Tebaan continue to operate in the informal economy, as well as challenges related to procedures for industrial land allocation, accessing infrastructure such as road and electricity networks, and facing high costs for transport and movement of goods in dry ports and on roads.
What’s being done to support the industry? Back in 2018, the government launched a EGP 3.6 bn project to develop Shaq El Tebaan and push it towards becoming a global hub for the industry, but action on the project began in earnest in recent months. The project is designed to help boost exports out of Shaq El Tebaan to USD 1 bn per year, according to El Badawy Abaza, Vice President of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ building materials division. The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has also kicked off a series of meetings and sessions with industry players to address their concerns, acting IDA chair Nahed Youssef said.