Q: How would you characterise the Egyptian government’s economic development strategy? What are your priorities and goals and how could foreign investors support it?
A: Egypt has embarked upon an ambitious and challenging home-grown economic programme since 2016. The objectives of this programme were to adjust imbalances in the Egyptian economy and unsustainable fiscal businesses, while at the same time achieving macroeconomic stability for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. We have undertaken a set of targets [as part of the ‘Egypt 2030’ initiative] and the Egypt 2030 development agenda is aligned with [the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030 target] and [the African Union’s] Africa Agenda 2063.
Three years after the start of our practical adjustment programme we can confidently say that we have achieved the target of this programme and we are able to stabilise the economy. This has been shown by an increase in economic growth compared with 2012 – it was 1.8% then, and we reached 5.6% for 2019/20 – while unemployment declined from 13.3% in 2012/13 to 7.8% in the first quarter of 2019 and we also managed to curb inflation. We are also confident in economic growth continuing and having reached stabilisation we have to continue [working] on more structural reforms, we have to work more on the supply side of the economy.
The government of Egypt has identified six main sectors of the economy – tourism, energy and mining, telecommunication, logistics and manufacturing – that are crucial to creating sustainable and balanced economic growth and these sectors all have the potential for investment.
Egypt is a country that is privileged to have a diversified economy and also privileged with young inhabitants – 60% of our population is under the age of 30.
Q: What else do you think should be attractive to foreign investors about Egypt at the moment? What are your selling points?
A: During the past two years we have worked to provide an enabling environment for FDI and enhanced private sector participation. We have invested a lot in infrastructure programmes… and we are now also establishing 14 new cities.
We do believe that the private sector is the agent of the economic growth, so we have also started the first Egypt sovereign wealth fund in order to be an accelerator for the private sector and act as a practical example of a public-private partnership.
Q: How important are the new cities for the attraction of investment and Egypt’s overall attractiveness as an economy?
A: The new cities have multi-dimensional attractiveness. They take the pressure off [overpopulated areas of the country]. Second, they improve the quality of life for people and this ensures the safety and security of the country which is a major thing for any investor. All these cities are basically sustainable cities – [making use of] renewable energy and taking pressure off energy resources.
These cities are going to be comprehensive locations that enhance the quality and level of life of the Egyptians, and at the same time are attractive places for business and investors to come.