More competitiveness needed to propel Egypt's economy

Ghada Raafat , Friday 26 Oct 2018

This year’s World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report points to deficiencies in Egypt’s education and healthcare systems, while praising the country’s market size

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Egypt is the 94th most-competitive nation out of the 140 countries ranked in the 2018 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum.

The country’s ranking averaged 93.5 from 2007 until 2018, and it scored its highest point in 2015 ranking 119.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic Studies (ECES), a think tank, discussed the results of this year’s report this week at an expert event in Cairo.

It said the report shed light on factors needed for productivity in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and provided tools for assessing these. Concerning the methodology by which countries were measured, new pillars and sub-pillars had been added to the 2018 report, it said, making a total of 12.

These pillars include institutions, infrastructure, information technology (ICT) adoption, macroeconomic stability, product markets, labour markets, the financial system, market size, business dynamism and innovation capability.

The four most-competitive nations in the world today are the US, which got the highest score (85.6 points), Singapore, in second place (83.5 points), Germany, in third (82.8 points) and Switzerland in fourth place (82.6 points).

Egypt’s best performance was in the market size category, where it scored 72.8 out of 100 points, making it 24th among 140 countries.

This year Egypt also scored highly in the pillar of infrastructure, with total points coming in at 70.5.

Other sub-pillars favouring Egypt included road connectivity, airport connectivity, efficiency of air-transport services, and efficiency of seaport services.

However, Egypt registered weak points in railroad density and the efficiency of train services.

Egypt’s poor performance was obvious in the innovation capability pillar, with a score of 37.7, ranking 64th out of 140 countries, while Germany was the best performer.

Weakness in sub-pillars such as patent applications per million of population, R&D expenditure, and quality of research institutions highlighted Egypt’s need to strengthen these sectors.

Egypt scored 46.4 in the labour market pillar, due to low female participation in the labour force, inactive labour policies, and difficulties in the ease of hiring foreign labour. It ranked 130th among 140 countries, while the US was the best performer in this domain.

For ICT adoption, Egypt ranked 100. It has high mobile-cellular telephone subscribers per 100 of population, but a very low rate of fixed-broadband Internet subscriptions, the report said. South Korea scored best in this area.

Egypt had also retreated in the education and health sub-pillars, according to the report. According to Hossam Badrawi of the ECES, there was the political will to develop education, but civil society needed to participate in the process and there should be a strategy for the development of the sector, “not just presentations and promises.”

At the same time as the report was launched, the ECES also launched its research report “Your Directory to Industrial Investment in Egypt” directed at businessmen, embassies and company heads who want more information about business in Egypt and about each governorate.

The directory is divided into four parts, with special sections for the urban governorates, Lower Egypt governorates, Upper Egypt governorates and border governorates.

It also includes information about start-up procedures in Egypt, utilities and energy prices, investment rules, tax structure, customs regulations, trade agreements and information concerning foreign labour and factory equipment.

* The writer is a freelance journalist.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 October, 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: More competitiveness needed 

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