Author: Tamer Hafez

This Q&A first appeared in February’s print edition of Business Monthly. What role do personal digital devices play in digital transformation? Personal digital devices, including mobile phones, tablets, wearable devices, PCs and laptops, are crucial to the Egyptian government’s ambitious drive to digitize the economy. Mobile phones and tablets provide ubiquitous access to digital services, ensuring citizens can seamlessly interact with government initiatives. These devices facilitate connectivity and communication, fostering real-time exchanges between government entities, businesses and citizens. Digital wallets and banking apps on mobile phones and wearables contribute to adopting cashless transactions, aligning with the government’s objective of…

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This article first appeared in February’s print edition of Business Monthly. In 2023, power outages for two hours were, for the first time, a fact of life in Egypt beyond the summer months when air conditioner use drops. In December, Asharq Business, Bloomberg’s Arabic news portal, reported that load shedding would continue until March due to a decrease in fuel for generators. Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into the national power grid could significantly reduce those blackouts. “AI holds promise … for optimizing energy generation, distribution and consumption,” FDM Group, a UK-based consultancy, said in September, AI is also increasingly essential…

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This article first appeared in February’s print edition of Business Monthly. Waste and carbon emissions have long been the top byproducts of increased human and economic activity. That is particularly evident in low- and middle-income countries whose GDPs grow significantly faster than advanced nations. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, “Emerging economies accounted for almost two-thirds of the world’s GDP growth and more than half of new consumption” from 2003 to 2018. That disparity is expected to continue. An Economist Intelligence Unit report published in October 2022 projected real GDP growth would remain stronger in emerging markets than in…

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This article first appeared in February’s print edition of Business Monthly. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming an indispensable tool powering (and changing) how governments work and offer services. “The transformative potential of AI is undeniable, with governments worldwide acknowledging its impact,” said Oxford Insights’ Government AI Readiness Index 2023 report published in December. “Governments are not only working to regulate AI and foster AI innovation, but also striving to integrate this technology into public services.” Egypt is a regional AI trailblazer, founding the National Council for Artificial Intelligence in November 2019 and publishing its AI strategy in July 2021.…

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This article first appeared in February’s print edition of Business Monthly. The Russia-Ukraine war has put the spotlight on a growing global food security problem. “The conflict quickly sparked fears of a global food crisis,” said a book published in 2023 by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). “Food prices were already high in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many countries were facing serious food insecurity.” The crisis comes amid worries that conventional agricultural practices are unsustainable. “In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the impact of conventional farming practices,” Emerging India Analytics, a…

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As investors witness rising competition and fewer lucrative opportunities in developed and traditionally attractive emerging markets, such as those in South Asia, Africa is increasingly in the spotlight. In September, McKinsey Global Institute, a U.S.-based management consultancy, said, “With its population expected to nearly double to 2.5 billion people by 2050, [Africa] presents myriad opportunities for robust, inclusive growth that harnesses rich natural resources and abundant human potential.” However, Africa faces economic, structural, and foreign risks. An IMF paper titled “Managing Fiscal Risks in the Middle East and North Africa,” published in June, said, “When risks materialize, they often have…

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For the past few years, Egypt has been in dire need of foreign currency inflows, leading the pound to officially lose almost half its value against the dollar from March 2022 to press time. However, EgCurrency, a digital platform reporting on black market rates for the pound against 18 foreign currencies, reported the rate at which dollars are bought and sold on the ground is around 73% higher than the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE). For local companies, that is unsustainable. In an Op-Ed published in Shorouk News in February 2022, Mohamed Youssef, a principal researcher at UAE-based TRENDS Research…

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Amid Egypt’s ongoing foreign currency shortage, commercial banks are borrowing more dollars from abroad to finance local businesses that depend on imports. According to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), commercial banks’ net foreign asset deficit jumped from the equivalent of EGP 219 billion in June 2022 using the official exchange rate to EGP 529 billion a year later. Within three months of the news, credit rating agencies Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investor Services, and Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings downgraded some of Egypt’s most prominent banks. Those downgrades were expected, as all three agencies had a “negative” outlook for the sector since…

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China’s nickname, “The World’s Factory,” says almost everything governments need to know about how the country sustains economic growth. “From 1992 to 2002, China implemented a series of very attractive incentives to attract foreign companies to its growing manufacturing sector,” said Blacksmith International, a management consultancy. Those incentives were compelling enough for some of the world’s biggest engineering industries, including Apple, Nike, L’Oreal, and Samsung Electronics, to build factories there. According to data aggregator Statistica, China raised its contribution to global GDP from 2.5% in 1980 to 18.44% in 2022. Egypt’s government also is working hard to promote manufacturing, notably engineering industries. Over…

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Despite increasing calls from activists, private-sector narratives, and government efforts to use more renewable energy sources (sun, wind, hydropower, and geothermal) over fossil fuel, yet oil still powers most of the global economy.    The Energy Institute, a global association, estimated that nearly 82% of the world still relied on fossil fuels as of 2022. Eco-friendly renewable sources accounted for 14.2%, with the rest coming from miscellaneous sources.   For Egypt, forecasting oil prices in 2024 will be vital, as Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) data shows that more than a fifth of the nation’s total import bill in fiscal year 2022/2023…

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