The World Bank praises Egypt's efforts to achieve comprehensive economic recovery

Egypt is recovering well economically, post-pandemic (Shutterstock)

In this article Ahmed Abdul-Rahman explains how the World Bank has reacted to Egypt's post-pandemic economic recovery.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a severe economic recession in most countries. Such is the downturn, it has now become the worst economic crisis the world has experienced since the Great Depression of 1929-1933.

The recent findings of the World Bank show that the repercussions of the corona pandemic in 2020/2021 are likely to increase the number of people living in extreme poverty by up to 150 million.

Marina Weiss, regional director of the World Bank office in Cairo, indicated that the macroeconomic reforms implemented by Egypt in recent years have helped to stabilise its economy. This stability has enabled the country to confront the pandemic, thereby mitigating the shock, she says.

Nevertheless, the effects of the pandemic have had repercussions on the country's growth prospects, prolonging long-standing issues of economic and social development. But the pandemic has also shown that Egypt can recover and rebuild in a way that enables the country to reach its full potential.

To this end, there is a need for Egypt to adopt a multidimensional approach to its recovery, according to the World Bank. It must ensure it has inclusive green development, protects the poor, enhances human capital, helps to create jobs in the private sector, and strengthens public policies, institutions and investments.

Protecting poor citizens and enhancing human capital.

Since its inception in 2015, the USD 400 million Social Safety Nets Strengthening Project in Egypt, with additional financing of $500 million, has reached nearly 3.4 million households (about 12 million citizens), according to Weiss. Support for the "Takaful and Karama" conditional and unconditional cash transfer program has helped boost human capital in Egypt, including in the areas of health and education, she explained.,

According to Weiss, women represent three-quarters of the program's beneficiaries. Another 67% of program payments go to Upper Egypt. This operation added 411,000 families during the pandemic, which enhanced the capacity and efficiency of the "Solidarity and Karama" program. It reached the poorest and most vulnerable families. To encourage the beneficiaries' financial independence, the project is implementing pilot programs for economic inclusion and qualification models in eight governorates under the "Forsa" program. These pilot programs provide the necessary linkages to obtain economic opportunities by providing production assets, transferring their ownership to eligible beneficiaries, providing paid employment opportunities and training, with a special focus on women and youth.

Job creation

The Egypt Private Sector Diagnostic Report was released in December 2020 with the aim of supporting private sector-led growth and analyses the challenges facing this sector. The report also aims to highlight private investment and growth potential in job creation to create a more dynamic business environment. It identifies trade, logistics, the role of the state, competition and trade justice as critical areas that need some reforms. Food industries, manufacturing and information and communication technology are identified as sectors that represent great opportunities for growth and expansion.

The Entrepreneurship Stimulation Project for Job Creation was launched in 2020 to provide a comprehensive package of financial and non-financial support to traditional small, medium and micro enterprises, as well as to high-growth start-ups, with a focus on women and youth. The project cooperates with financial intermediaries with the aim of facilitating loan financing and raising additional capital. To date, this project has created and maintained over 30,000 jobs, and aims to create 100,000 jobs by 2025.

Strengthening policies, institutions and investments for sustainable recovery

The Greater Cairo Air Quality and Climate Change Management Project was launched in September 2020. Its aim is to contribute to a sustainable recovery, including specific responses to combat the coronavirus. It supports government efforts to mitigate health and environmental risks.

Project activities' focus on building responsive and resilient institutions and systems. Its focus on the health sector aims to treat and reduce polluted waste, and its focus on the service sector aims to enhance worker safety. Working within university hospitals it supports better management of health waste. The activities implemented by this project involve a large number of workers, both formal and informal, who are involved in waste management in the Greater Cairo area. They receive training but often do not have access to protective equipment such as gloves, glasses, face shields, gowns, and aprons.

Although it will likely take years to reveal the effects of this pandemic, the World Bank says it is proud to collaborate with Egypt on its journey to rebuild better systems, achieve sustainable economic growth and generate benefits for all Egyptians.

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Tuesday, 03 August 2021