Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has said that the return of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) report on human development in Egypt for 2021, following a decade-long hiatus, indicates the Egyptian state’s ability to overcome challenges.
Madbouly made the remarks during the launching ceremony for the Human Development Report (HDR) 2021 in the New Administrative Capital, which was attended by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as well as key UNDP and state officials.
The HDR reflects the comprehensive development efforts undertaken by the state, which “extend to all aspects of life in Egypt,” presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady said.
“The return of this report after a 10-year pause is an important indication that the Egyptian state could overcome many challenges,” Madbouly said during the ceremony.
The PM said that he was among the experts who participated in preparing the HDR during the past few years, and hailed the “complete impartiality and scientific method” through which the report was prepared.
Madbouly added that Egypt has become in an “excellent position to be more open to international institutions and keener to make all data available and to follow transparency in all measures taken,” Madbouly said.
Economic reform program
Madbouly said that Egypt’s economic reform program achieved major accomplishments before the coronavirus and managed to maintain positive economic growth during the pandemic.
Egypt is keen to achieve 7 percent economic growth during the coming four years, Madbouly said.
“Over the past 10 years, Egypt witnessed two revolutions and faced numerous security, political and economic challenges,” Madbouly said, affirming that these developments had many negative implications on economy.
Madbouly said that Egypt’s economic reform program mainly sought to fix decades-long structural problems in the economy.
“But most importantly, [the programme aimed to] secure job opportunities for our youth, improve the individual’s standard of living, upgrade the services provided to him, achieve social justice and sustainable development within the framework of Egypt Vision 2030 and the UN SDGs,” Madbouly said.
He noted that the economic programme has also aimed to attract more regional and international investments to expand the Egyptian economy.
Madbouly also said that the state has launched social initiatives and programmes to ease the effect of the economic reform program on some segments of society, including the cash-subsidy programme Takaful and Karama.
Madbouly said that the achievements Egypt has made thanks to the economic reform programme are only one stage of a long programme Egypt is keen to implement.
The UNDP introduced the report in 1990 to define and measure development and to rank countries based on their Human Development Index (HDI), which ranks education, health and income.
According to UNDP Egypt, the country's 2021 report highlights human development between 2011 and 2020.
‘Putting human beings at the heart of development’
Speaking during the ceremony, Randa Abu El-Hassan, UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt, said this is the 12th Human Development Report to be issued on Egypt since 1994.
“This important report... reaffirms Egypt’s commitment to a development approach that puts human beings at its heart,” Abu El-Hassan said.
Abu El-Hassan said that the report covers a pivotal period in Egypt’s modern history, starting with the revolutions in 2011 and 2013, and including the adoption of the 2014 constitution, followed by major reforms in economic and social policies.
Abu El-Hassan said these reforms managed to “tackle chronic development challenges,” and that Egypt’s economic reform program could achieve economic stability.
She also highlighted that Egypt was among few countries that were able to achieve positive economic growth in 2020 despite the pandemic.
‘Important changes amid socio-economic challenges’
In a recorded speech played during the ceremony, UNDP administrator Achim Steiner expressed the UNDP’s pride to have collaborated with Egypt in issuing the HDR since 1994.
The 2021 report covers a period of important changes in Egypt marked by major socio-economic transitions and challenges, Steiner said.
“It shows how the country has made huge strides in key areas such as health, education and housing,” he stated.
Egypt, Steiner said, is notable for being among the earliest adopters of the concept of human development, which is “centred on expanding the richness of human life rather than simply the richness of the economy.”
Steiner mentioned that Egypt managed to raise life expectancy from 70.3 years in 2010 to 72 years in 2019.
He also said children in Egypt today “benefit from nearly four years more of schooling compared to three decades ago.”
Steiner also noted that due to the COVID-19, global human development is regressing for the first time since 1990.
“Like the rest of the world, Egypt is grappling with these harsh realities; yet, notably it has managed to maintain positive economic growth due to the implementation of bold economic reforms,” Steiner said.
Egypt is also responding proactively to the climate and environment crisis, Steiner said, citing Egypt’s establishment of a national council for climate change in 2019 to drive forward climate action.
“The UNDP is proud to support these crucial efforts, including through the new strategy on climate change,” Steiner added.
Steiner said that Egypt’s upcoming development finance assessment supported by the UN will lay the foundations for the country’s new integrated national financing framework.
It will also help increase investments to achieve SDGs and sustainable development strategy goals under Egypt Vision 2030, according to Steiner.
During the ceremony, Minister of Planning Hala El-Said said that Egypt was among the earliest countries to document the human development situation.
El-Said said that the issuance of HDRs around the world contributes to strengthening countries' capacity to collect and analyse data related to human development.
HDR Egypt's recommendations
Khaled Zakaria, the author of the 2021 HDR Egypt, revealed a number of recommendations mentioned in the report.
These include issuing a number of laws supporting economic and social development, Zakaria said.
The recommendations also include the implementation of institutional and administrative reforms required to comprehensively implement existing strategies and laws.
These laws include the social insurance law, the health insurance law and the waste management law.