The Rocket in The Haystack:
Between Nasser’s Developmental Vision and The Neo-Imperialist Mission

Kareem Megahed & Omar Ghannam

This paper assesses Gamal Abdel Nasser’s efforts to transform Egypt’s post-colonial economy via his industrialisation policies, drawing lessons for today from both his successes and shortcomings. By analysing outcomes through indicators of industrial production, employment patterns, productivity, and main beneficiaries in the post-independence period, the paper critiques Nasser’s incremental approach, the undermining of worker’s movements, and the limiting nature of ‘state feminism,’ which contributed to the failure to achieve full economic and political independence, leading to its eventual collapse in the face of imperialist resurgence. Nasser’s industrialisation project, however, does demonstrate the superiority of active policy intervention, particularly of planning and import-substitution-industrialization, and suggests the need to pursue central planning, economic inclusion, self sufficiency, and social production aimed at meeting the material needs of the population in the contemporary period.

More from Kareem and Omar:

Lessons from Africa's past to cope with COVID-19

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the structural inequality that exists in Africa today. This article explores how the pandemic can be managed by reflecting on the early post-independence era in Africa, and adopting the lessons learned from their development projects. 

Industrialization Policies for the People: Post-Independence Egypt

Discussing how industrialization policies under Nasser worked to center the needs of the Egyptian people, Kareem Megahed and Omar Ghannam (Researchers, Post-Colonialisms Today) contrast approaches focused solely on growth and draw lessons for today.

Egypt’s Past Industrialization Project: Lessons for the COVID-19 Crisis

Nasser’s post-independence industrialization project transformed much of Egyptian economy and society. Kareem Megahed and Omar Ghannam critically recover lessons from this project for today’s neoliberal context of globalized supply chains.