Egypt, Morocco economic growth stronger than other MENA countries in 2015: World Bank

Waad Ahmed , Tuesday 6 Oct 2015

Despite the growth, the World Bank estimates the countries still face an uphill battle

A man is silhouetted against the logo of the World Bank at the main venue for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meeting in Tokyo October 10, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

The economies of Egypt and Morocco have grown stronger than those of other countries in the stagnating Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2015, according to a World Bank brief released Monday.

The World Bank projected overall GDP growth for MENA in 2015 at about 2.8 percent, while "low oil prices, conflicts and the global economic slowdown make short-term prospects of recovery unlikely".

Egypt's growth could hover at about 4 percent in 2015 and 2016 as a result of reinforced security and ongoing reforms, said the World Bank.

The past year has seen an improving security situation, with a decline in the unrest witnessed following the 2011 ouster of long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak and the later toppling of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Since the election of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in 2014, the Egyptian government has taken up politically sensitive reforms, including the raising of fuel prices and introducing new taxes.

The Egyptian government, keen to lure foreign investors, has also reformed investment legislation and seeks to cut red tape and facilitate the process of doing business.

Despite the reforms, the World Bank brief says the tide is against countries like Egypt and Morocco.

"MENA’s investment needs are high and its shortage of foreign capital has made a bad situation worse," said the World Bank.

The World Bank estimates Egypt would still need an extra $30–35 billion in investment and another $10 billion for developing its infrastructure in coming years.

Egypt's investment minister, Ashraf Salman, told the Cairo Euromoney Conference in September that Egypt needs LE400 billion ($51.1 billion) in domestic investments and $10 billion in foreign direct investments to grow at a rate of 5 to 5.5 percent of GDP.

However, the task of attracting foreign investments is challenging amid the global economic slowdown.

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