Tough financial reforms put Egypt in the fast lane
Years of tough but successful IMF-led reforms have put Egypt in a great place to rebound strongly from Covid. Its future will be shaped by big infrastructure projects and by a plan to transform the nation into a powerhouse of green finance.
When Ahmed Kouchouk was appointed Egypt’s vice-minister of finance for fiscal policies and institutional reform in March 2016, the country was struggling.
Any flicker of hope its people felt after the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak five years earlier had long since been extinguished.
The IMF reckoned foreign exchange reserves covered about three months of exports and that the exchange rate was overvalued by 25%. Inflation threatened to surge out of control, hitting 31% in December of that year. Political and social turmoil kept tourists – a vital source of income – away and global investors with any appetite for Egyptian risk were thin on the ground.
If there was any faith in the future, it was to be found in a newish technocratic government taking shape under president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
From day one, we focused on the big-ticket things that would help us detach from the past
In late 2015, Tarek Amer was picked to head the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). Then came a spring-clean at the finance ministry, with Amr El-Garhy chosen to take over and Kouchouk, a former World Bank senior economist, joining as his deputy.