EGYPT

SPECIFIC FOCUS

  • Mobile banking
  • Direct Finance
  • Technical Assistance

ECONOMY

After three years of political upheaval following the 2011 resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's political transition culminated in the 2014 election of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and parliamentary elections in 2015.  With increased political stability, the economy started to recover in 2015 as the government scaled up infrastructure spending and undertook important measures to restore macroeconomic stability by moving away from universal subsidies towards a more targeted transfer program, taking measures to contain public spending, and increasing tax revenues.  Economic growth rebounded to 4.2% in 2015, double that of the previous four years. 

2016 figures indicate that the economic uptick has faded mainly due to foreign exchange shortages and security challenges facing the tourism industry.  Far-reaching structural reforms are needed to transform Egypt’s economy into a dynamic system that can reduce poverty, create productive employment opportunities, and maintain social and political stability.  Poverty rates are high (25% of the population), concentrated in Rural Upper Egypt, and unemployment remains high, particularly for women and youth.  Egypt’s fast growing population (already exceeding 88 million) is increasing pressures on the labor market, infrastructure, social services, and the environment.


Small and Medium Enterprises in EGYPT

Egypt’s government recognizes the importance of SMEs which account for more than 90% of the private sector and provide employment to approximately 65-75% of the labor market.  In April, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) launched a comprehensive initiative to finance small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  The initiative aims to provide financing to 350,000 clients and create 4 million new jobs over the next four years.  In particular, the CBE instructed banks to allocate EGP 200 billion ($225 million) to finance SMEs.

The estimated number of SMEs in Egypt at the end of 2011 totaled about 3.04 million establishments, representing 33.7 % of total employment. Despite banking reforms, access to finance is still restricting the business environment for small and medium entrepreneurs. Banks have been skeptical of SME lending due to low returns and the affiliated high risk.
 

Only 10% of Egyptians have an account at a formal financial institution as of 2011, which shows a very low level of financial inclusion.