Guest article: Egypt today

Please read below the article on modern day Egypt by the „General Union der Ägypter in Österreich”.

Egypt has witnessed throughout its history many challenges and conflicts that contributed in a way or another to obstruct the development path, Egypt made sure of overcoming these challenges to cope with the regional and international variables, taking advantage of its unique geographical location which played a vital role in the development process, perhaps what Egypt went through since 2011 till now is a clear evidence on that, after many economical issues piled on Egypt, and with a new rising vision to solve these issues since 2013, and many corrective economical programs that are substantially different than its predecessors. These programs focused on treating the root causes of issues & threats besides working on the future issues with all the available tools.

During the era of President Al-Sisi, Egypt succeed for the first time in its history at converting consumer spending to productive spending for the sake of building and developing the country infrastructure completely ( Roads, bridges, reclaiming and cultivating hundreds of thousands of acres, providing housing for poor & middle-income citizens, founding a new administrative capital, upgrading factories, upgrading informal settlements, continuing to open massive production projects in different Governorates, and continuing the digital transformation of the government) which indicates the presence of a scientific and studied plan for building a modern country to overcome the internal and external challenges.

The president supervised implementing a program of economic reforms, initiated in 2017, to ensure better economic advancement and improve the citizens’ living conditions.  The Program aims to ensure that the support reaches the persons entitled to it to achieve social justice. The IMF  reports have indicated that economic conditions have improved significantly since the start of the reform program, which has helped to liberalize the exchange rate, accelerate rates of growth, reduce  internal and external fiscal deficits, increase monetary reserve, and reduce unemployment rates to 8.3%. Unemployment is expected to rocket down by the end of the fiscal year of 2020/2021. That is in comparison to 2011. Drawing on guidance from the concerned international institutions

Despite of the positive indicators that were reflected by executing the economic reform program, some burdens of living have appeared because of subsidies removal on the short term, but it did not affect the situation stability internally in lights of the people’s confidence at the government policies which are a major factor in the economic reform program that was recommended by the world bank and to is being executed with the cooperation of International Monetary Fund, for example, despite of the rise of transportation cost in Egypt, it’s still one of the cheapest countries in transportation cost across the world ( $.5 for a subway ticket for example), although the operation cost is very high.

Undoubtedly, the outbreak of the emerging „Corona“ pandemic has affected the economies of the whole world. However, despite the pressure exerted by all national projects on state resources, international economic institutions have unanimously agreed on Egypt’s success – within a limited number of countries in the world – in Achieving a positive growth rate during the crisis, and the challenge facing the government is how to balance the continuation of the development process and absorb the challenges that emerged because of this crisis, as the Egyptian government allocated large sums of money from the public budget to develop the health and education sectors, in addition to financial subsidies. To help daily workers and families most affected by the coronavirus crisis. A report by Moody’s for credit rating issued in September 2020 praised Egypt’s creditworthiness indicators, giving the Egyptian economy a B2 rating, with a stable outlook, indicating that rating rising is linked to the state’s ability to withstand debt, reduce overall financing needs, and maintain high levels of foreign exchange reserves, and Goldman Sachs confirmed the Egyptian economy’s ability to withstand the economic repercussions of the Coronavirus, evidenced by the return of about 50% of the indirect foreign investments (about $ 10 billion) that came out with the onset of the coronavirus crisis.  Expressing positive expectations until the end of this year about inflation rates, the strength of the Egyptian pound, as well as achieving some tourism flows despite the „Corona“ crisis, as Wise Air, which is the third largest low-cost airline in Europe, announced the re-operation of „3“ flights. Weekly – „Milan“ to „Alexandria“, in addition to the resumption of Royal Dutch Airlines flights to „Cairo“ after a three-year stop, as well as the return of flights from Russia and Kazakhstan to Egypt, with the government applying the precautionary measures agreed upon to receive tourists

During previous years, the Egyptian government focused on addressing the deficiencies in the Egyptian economic indicators, as well as the social problems that were resulted from it, as it succeeded in achieving a decline in the annual inflation rate for the entire republic from August 2020 to reach 3.4% compared to 4.6% in July 2020, and about “6.7%” for the same month of last year, against the backdrop of the continued decline in the prices of the food, drinks, grains and other food products

The government is also trying, for the first time in the history of Egypt, to provide an accurate digital registration of real estate and agricultural lands, in a way that helps solve the problem of erosion of agricultural land and alleviates the facilities crisis that resulted from the exploitation of the events of the 2011 revolution by constructing randomly and illegally on agricultural lands.

In another context, the Egyptian state announced targeting to increase government investments in the current fiscal year 2020/2021 by about 55% over the previous fiscal year, bringing the total to about 20 billion Egyptian pounds (225 billion Egyptian pounds funded from the state’s general budget. ), And directing about „10%“ of it to drinking water and sanitation projects.

Perhaps one of the most prominent successes is the emergence of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum as a regional natural gas entity that included in its membership the neighboring countries to Egypt and its launch to become an international entity that inspires peoples and countries

Therefore, it was highlighted how important is working on investing in giant government infrastructure projects, especially those linked to the construction sector, which is the engine of growth for the Egyptian economy, during the period of the „Corona“ crisis, as it mainly contributed to achieving a positive growth rate in the fiscal year 2019/2020 that reached 3.5%. It also helped limit the acceleration of unemployment associated with the disruption of private sector investments due to the crisis, as the unemployment rate rose slightly in the second quarter of 2020 (9.6%) compared to about 7.7% in the first quarter of the same year, with an increase of 2.1% over the corresponding period of last year, in addition to spending on these projects contributed to providing cash liquidity within the markets to push the movement of various economic activities

On the social level, President Al-Sisi has also pointed out his work agenda on investing in the Egyptian people since his re-election in 2018, which has been translated on the ground by investing in the state’s capabilities, especially for the benefit of the health and education sectors. These two sectors, in addition to investing in the capabilities of the Engineering Authority for the Armed Forces to implement national projects, given its great expertise, especially the commitment to complete these projects in the specified times, and at the lowest possible costs, in cooperation with the private sector in a way that adds job opportunities and experiences for the Egyptian youth.

It’s important not to overlook the attack from some countries on the role of the military institution in civilian life, which is intended as null, given that the military institution is primarily a national institution that is characterized by discipline and the ability to achieve without bureaucratic obstacles

In this regard, it must be noted that many countries have succeeded in investing in the capabilities of their military institutions for economic advancement, and perhaps the Chinese model is the best proof of that, in addition to the work of institutions as private companies governed by laws and rules regulating the functioning of the market

Finally, and lastly, ancient and modern Egyptian history has proven that the comprehensive power of the Egyptian state (economically, militarily and socially) is always targeted in an attempt to exhaust it, and to disperse efforts to restore Egyptian influence on the regional and international arenas, as it takes place during the current stage (the 21st century) Stalking Egypt through retaliatory campaigns, but not military. In the current era, since 2011, Egypt has been accustomed to adopting aggressive media campaigns against its progress and prosperity and people rallying around the Egyptian leadership, whether in the foreign media, or through social media, which has become one of the tools for influencing public opinion, with political tendencies and orientations directed in favor of one party at the expense of the other, to pass a negative mental image of Egypt to the Egyptian citizen and the international community, and then handcuff the Egyptian government and exhaust it in attempts to correct any allegations that may affect the reality of the situation inside Egypt.

Photo by Omar Elsharawy on Unsplash