Tarek Amer, governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), said that the government and the CBE are continuing their path of economic reform in order to move the economy and the Egyptian people to an unprecedented place.
During the annual conference of the African Development Bank in Busan, South Korea, Amer noted that the president showed great courage in confronting and addressing challenges and giving the CBE the necessary support to make difficult decisions.
“We have taken positive steps to address macroeconomic imbalances in Egypt. Our economic performance indicators have improved beyond expectations and encouraged Egyptian policymakers to take further reform steps,” Amer said.
“We have taken a big step in educating our society, and we managed to show how important it is to take difficult action. Our society endured the situation with courage and determination,” he continued.
Amer added that the decision to liberalise the exchange rate was one of the great economic decisions taken, which led to the improvement of the current account in Egypt by 64% in one year, while foreign exchange reserves increased to cover nine months of imports, while unemployment dropped by 3%, inflation eased from 33% to 13%, and economic growth marked 5.3% last quarter.
He pointed out that financial technology (fintech) is very important and is an essential and important element in the government’s aspirations towards the achievement of financial inclusion.
“We in Egypt and the CBE are now ready to move strongly in this direction. Financial inclusion and financial technology have acquired a large part of the CBE and government officials’ attention,” he stressed.
“In Africa, we hear and learn from leading economic experiments, including South Korea and Asian journeys, to maximise our ability to achieve economic development for our African people,” he said.
He noted that he had spoken with African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina on how to implement structural reforms in African countries.
According to Amer, the talks with Adesina also focused on the importance of governance as a key component in helping African institutions improve their ability to deal with foreign and domestic investments and counter bureaucracy, as well as dealing with micro, small, and medium enterprises and merging them into the formal sector to help them grow and secure financing, which requires further improvements and reforms.
Amer stressed that fighting corruption at the African level is very important, pointing out that corruption is causing serious damage, not only because of the wasting of money, but also because of the obstacles created by corruption in the completion of functions.
“Improvement in the business climate cannot be achieved without structural reform. We in Egypt take this issue very seriously, especially since we have recently been able to complete the first phase of our economic reform programme. We have also seriously addressed fiscal imbalances in coordination and cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, to confirm the seriousness and commitment to carry out the task of reform,” Amer said.
Moreover, Amer said, “we believe in Africa’s potential. I always say that, in Egypt, we cannot continue to import food from outside Africa, while Africa can provide us with much of our food needs,” he said.
Amer then noted that economists and financial institutions can do much to solve many of Africa’s problems alongside politicians, who should enable economists, financial institutions, policymakers, central banks, and finance ministries and give them powers that enable them to enter into contractual agreements, strengthening cooperation among African countries.
Amer pointed out that Africa needs more discipline and to enhance ability to provide high-quality services at the level of governments, because governments are creating a favourable environment for growth, employment, and investment.
He added that it is important and necessary to apply good governance in governmental institutions, which will help in facing corruption.
Amer pointed out that Egypt has the resources needed, but requires creating an environment through which government officials and technocrats can work. “It is natural for corruption to resist, so we want to create an environment that enables experts to produce,” he stated.
He stressed the importance of providing markets and investors with trained workers, pointing out that trained labour forces are very important, and therefore, focus must be on the development of human resources.
“Our focus has been on tools, machinery, and equipment, but I think it’s very important that we focus on developing our talented young people, engineers, physicists, and others, who can add value to our communities and offer technology of a local flavour,” he added.
“We must invest in research and the development of youth skills to improve industries. There must also be regulations to regulate the private sector and prevent violations. We in Egypt believe that African countries can benefit from each other, but we need to have more faith and trust, to cooperate together and to open up trade routes among African countries through investment in infrastructure and transportation facilities so that goods and services can be transported across our markets at reasonable costs,” Amer concluded.