Cairo, Egypt – The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), together with the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) and the Federation of Egyptian Banks (FEB), are sharing details of a new Executive Roadmap to aid Egypt’s transition to a cashless economy. The roadmap includes proposals for numerous legal and regulatory reforms.
“Reducing Egypt’s dependence on cash transactions would boost economic opportunity in Egypt and make the economy more competitive globally,” according to CIPE Executive Andrew Wilson. “It would also foster transparency in financial transactions and promote the inclusion of Egypt’s large informal sector into the formal economy where their businesses can grow and prosper.”
Wilson helped introduce the Executive Roadmap last week during a national conference organized by CIPE, FEI, and FEB in Cairo. The roadmap includes specific recommendations intended to increase transparency and reduce opportunities for corruption, illicit payments, and money-laundering. More than 400 members of the public and private sectors attended the conference and have been asked to provide feedback on the proposed roadmap. Conference attendees included Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Administrative Reform, H.E. Hala El-Said, Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry H.E. Tarek Kabil, FEI Chair Mohamed El-Sewedy, and FEB Chair Hisham Ezz El-Arab, as well as other leaders from the industrial and banking sectors, economists and media outlets.
“Building consensus on the priorities of reform is the path for a smooth, sustainable transition,” Wilson said.
The release of the Executive Roadmap signals a new phase in financial inclusion efforts by the Egyptian government, which has taken a number of aggressive steps to boost the national economy. These have included expanding access to banking services across the population, including mobile payment methods and smart cards. It is estimated that the informal sector accounts for nearly 40% of the Egyptian economy. Additionally, few eligible adults had bank accounts until fairly recently. Hisham Ezz El-Arab, Chair of Federation of Egyptian Banks, notes that the number of electronic cards issued by banks over the past year has increased more than 36%.
The Executive Roadmap follows a 2016 report by an Experts Council created by CIPE, the FEI, and the FEB. The report included policy framework recommendations and other actions, based on extensive input from both public and private stakeholders. The Experts Council’s work led to the formation of a National Payments Council in early 2017.
“The Egyptian government’s response to the FEI/FEB initiative has been amazing, though not surprising, given the aggressive economic reforms taking place,” Wilson said.
At the conference, Ezz El-Arab and Tarek Tawfik, Deputy Chair of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, recognized the benefit of the coalition, which was formed through CIPE assistance, saying it showed that “Collaboration between non-government organizations gets better and quicker results.”