Egypt, land of the famous River Nile, long-dead pharaohs, spectacular pyramids and a civilisation going back some six millennia. Oh, yes, and glorious weather, too, manic Cairo traffic, atmospheric Alexandria and the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, so beloved of sun-starved Brits. Quite a list to be getting on with.
Yes, and good as far as the average tourist itinerary goes, but what’s it all got to do with savings accounts or any other form of personal finance, unless there’s a tenuous link with ancient Egyptian banking practices, perhaps? Actually, the ancient Egyptians did institute a rudimentary form of banking involving the storage and distribution of grain throughout their ancient landscape.
But that’s a completely different story. Seriously, if link there be, then it’s the fact Egyptian expatriates can both have their cake and eat it, too, so to speak. For they can enjoy the sights and sounds which attract millions of visitors from all parts of the world to Egypt whilst at the same time earning a decent living. It’s much like being paid while on a rather extended holiday in the sun!
Now, unless you’ve been living at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean for the last few years, you’ll realise Egypt has had a problem or two struggling to shake off the dictatorial shackles imposed on the country by the now-deposed Hosni Mubarak and his coterie of henchmen. The January 2011 revolution and its aftermath has been well covered by the world’s media and the wall-to-wall reporting has certainly led to a decrease in visitor numbers.
But visitors are now returning, in their droves, as the country steers it way slowly through a political and economic minefield. Yes, visitor numbers have yet to reach 2010 levels but they’re climbing upwards as each year passes. In the meantime, business confidence is increasing as is foreign investment.
Indeed, some big players are beginning to look afresh at Egypt, particularly China which reportedly has increased investment by $200 million over the past two years, an increase of 60%. And it looks like there’s much more to come from the country which is looking to boost bilateral relations.
Other developments of note include a feasibility study prepared by the company AECOM into the establishment of an airport city around Cairo International Airport at an estimated cost of $20 billion. It was also reported that the Islamic Development Bank plans to pump $3 billion into the Egyptian economy over the next five years.
A particular concern of the Egyptian government, however, is ensuring the country has a dependable energy supply. It would certainly be high on the list of concerns of potential investors, too. The country has suffered blackouts over recent years as a result of growing energy demand and now the government is seriously looking at alternative options, including renewable energy.
According to leading international law firm Norton Rose, demand is estimated to be increasing at a rate of 1,500 to 2,000 megawatts (MW) a year because of rapid urbanisation and economic growth. Egypt’s aim of providing 20% of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2020 is expected to be met largely by scaling-up of wind power projects, with the share of wind power in total electricity generation being expected to reach 12%. This translated to a wind power capacity of about 7200MW by the end of the decade.