Washington, DC — To increase opportunities for growth and improve the business environment in the historically marginalized Egyptian governorate of Sohag, the Sohag Investors Association (SIA) launched the 2019 Sohag Business Agenda. CIPE worked closely with the SIA, a long-term partner, to develop and launch the first business agenda that focuses on Upper Egypt. This is particularly significant because Upper Egypt, located in the southern part of the country in the Nile Valley, encompasses several key industrial zones.
“The process of developing this business agenda, as well as the final product, have been critical to bringing attention to the challenges facing Sohag investors,” Greg Simpson, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at CIPE, said. “Sohag is a governorate with hardworking people and great economic potential. With this business agenda, the SIA seeks to dismantle barriers to economic growth in Sohag and foster a business environment that will realize Sohag’s potential.”
The Sohag Business Agenda was also an opportunity for the SIA to build consensus around the issues identified in the report. High-level officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), and the Ministry of Local Development, and the Upper Egypt Development Agency, attended the launch and expressed support for the recommendations outlined in the agenda. At the launch Emad Raafat, Deputy Chair of IDA, announced that the IDA will comply with Law 15/2017 and annul any additional fees levied through decree which are not present in the law. Based on the work of CIPE partner, the Federation of Economic Development Associations, the 2019 Business Agenda recommended that the IDA to comply with Law 15/2017 and remove these fees.
“Gathering government buy-in was a crucial step in launching this agenda,” Randa AlZoghbi, Egypt Program Director at CIPE, said. “For many officials who attended the launch, this was their first time in Sohag—giving them the opportunity to see the problems on the ground demonstrated the importance of the reforms proposed.”
CIPE has worked with the SIA for several years to strengthen their capacity and ability to effectively represent their 350 members. The report identifies several key obstacles which include: inadequate infrastructure and public utilities in industrial zones; difficulties in accessing finance; disruptions caused by the government’s economic reform program; shortage of skilled workers; problems in marketing; and cumbersome bureaucratic procedures. The agenda proposes short term, medium term, and long terms recommendations to address these challenges; and identifies the accountable government agency for each of the challenges.
As the paper highlights, there have been several policies initiated to address these reforms—but none of them have been properly implemented. If they are implemented, progress is not monitored. This gap between policy and practice perpetuates Sohag’s economic stagnation.
The 2019 Sohag Business Agenda was initially published in Arabic.
A non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CIPE currently implements 130 programs in 50 countries around the world.