Sunday,17 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1266, (15 - 21 October 2015)
Sunday,17 December, 2017
Issue 1266, (15 - 21 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Thinking outside the box

Ahmed Kotbtalks to experts about solving Egypt’s investment woes

Al-Ahram Weekly

“Egypt can achieve sustainable development by focusing on its industrial sector,” said Mohamed Al-Sherif, chief executive officer of Logic Management Consulting. More importantly, he added, the country needs to use its raw materials to manufacture end products, rather than simply exporting them.

As an example, Al-Sherif noted that Egyptian raw cotton is being sold for LE20,000 per ton, while a ton of garments is being sold for approximately LE165,000. “We have to find a way to invest more in manufacturing end products without affecting the revenues from exporting raw materials,” he stressed.

This was one of many suggestions made to increase investment during the Innovation in Government Conference organised by the Ministry of Planning in Cairo earlier this week.

With about 95 per cent of Egypt’s land still unpopulated, there is great potential for attracting foreign investors, provided that investment procedures are facilitated and transparency improved.

However, the high price of land allocated for industrial projects is a big obstacle, according to Mostafa Al-Gabaly, managing director of Abo Zaabal Fertilisers and Chemicals. “The price per metre can be LE1,000, which is very high compared to other countries,” he said, adding that many areas allocated for industrial projects in Egypt are still empty because of high prices and complicated procedures.

Licences, permits, access to land and exiting the market are four main obstacles that discourage investors interested in investing in Egypt, Al-Gabaly concluded.

The complicated structure of Egypt’s administration was also highlighted. "We have about 2,500 executive bodies, including 33 ministries, 27 governmental bodies and 234 authorities,” said Tarek Al-Hossary, director of the Institutional Development Programme at the Ministry of Planning.

He added that the government intends to reduce the number of ministries to 20 by 2030, as well as carrying out other procedures that should help create an effective system that offers high-quality services.

Ashraf Al-Araby, Egypt’s minister of planning, said during the conference that innovative solutions are needed to solve the country’s problems and to create sustainable development through proper administrative reforms.

“The budget allocated for administrative reforms increased more than tenfold in 2015 over last year,” he said.

One method would be the launch of the hukumati (“my government”) application on smart phones, which would provide government services to citizens in a faster and easier way. These services would include paying electricity bills, telephone and Internet bills, and car licence services. The application, designed by Fawry Banking and Payment Technology Services, will start operations next month.

“We aim to increase the investment rate, in comparison to Egypt’s GDP, from the current 15 per cent to 30 per cent by 2030,” Al-Araby said. The rate was 22 per cent prior to the global financial crisis in 2008, and Egypt could reach 30 per cent with the potential and plans it has, the minister said.

According to Azza Al-Shinnawy, director of government solutions at Microsoft Egypt, the government should create a knowledge-based society to support human welfare under the 2030 Development Plan.

“Programmes like the smart cards to supply citizens with subsidised food and petroleum products are examples of the government’s willingness to automate its services,” she said.

Advanced industrial training was another necessity spoken about at the conference. For Al-Gabaly, the development of technical training institutes in Egypt could greatly help the industrial sector, especially since there are about 1,900 of these spread across the country.

“Linking technical training with industry needs will help create urgently needed advanced industrial training,” he said.

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