From the private investment committee s session on local and foreign investment in Cairo at the National Dialogue on Tuesday. Photo : The National Dialogue
During the second week of the National Dialogue, a diverse group of attendees, including economic experts, party representatives, and businessmen, unanimously agreed that Egypt holds immense potential to attract increased investments. However, they also acknowledged the existence of significant hurdles that impede the realization of this potential.
Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, chairman of the General Authority of Investment and Free Zone, noted that the session did not bring forth any new problems or issues regarding investments in Egypt, as these issues had been previously discussed. He emphasized the critical importance of successful implementation rather than merely coming up with promising policies and strategies.
Abdel-Wahab drew attention to the availability of abundant land for industrial purposes in Egypt, including numerous industrial zones. However, the focus shifted to the effectiveness of land utilization and the returns on investment it generates.
Concerns were raised regarding the efficiency and skills of the young workforce and whether the education system adequately prepares them for the work environment. Furthermore, he highlighted regulatory and executive factors as crucial facilitators for the advancement of the industrial sector.
MP Hani Abaza, representing the Wafd Party, highlighted the lack of significant progress in improving the industrial sector, despite the existence of supportive political will. Citizens have yet to witness substantial advancements, he said.
He stressed the need to address obstacles in industrial production through tangible solutions, as previous recommendations had often lacked effective implementation.
Another participant from the Al-Wafd Party emphasized the urgency of reaching a consensus on a new scientific approach and mechanisms to tackle high-energy costs for industries in Egypt. Additionally, currency mismanagement, which discourages investors, was flagged as an area that requires attention.
Adel Hanafy, vice chairman of the General Union of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia, shed light on the substantial number of Egyptians residing in Saudi Arabia and the significant amount of remittances they send back to Egypt, amounting to nearly $31 billion.
He called for the establishment of an Egyptian joint-stock company to prevent illegal external remittances. Hanafy also advocated addressing lengthy licensing procedures through radical solutions, similar to the reforms implemented in the field of medicine.
He further proposed the activation of customs privileges for companies, and the organization of an investment forum to attract investors from various countries following the conclusion of the National Dialogue.
Ali Abdel-Qader, secretary-general of the Egyptian Exporters Association, stated that Egypt has a golden opportunity to redirect its economy toward exports and investment, considering the dramatic changes occurring in supply chains.
He noted that European companies seek new investment opportunities, and are moving away from Chinese dominance, and that Egypt has several key advantages in this regard. He highlighted the presence of giant European companies looking for markets close to them, which Egypt can provide.
Abdel-Qader stressed that both foreign and local investment requires a stable political environment and a strong economy that fosters investment growth. He mentioned the successful experience of the Supreme Council for Investment, headed by the president, and the important decisions recently made.
He emphasized that implementing these decisions on the ground would be a significant milestone for Egypt.