Opportunities for European SMEs under Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda
Why should you read this document?
Egypt is a renowned and popular tourist destination, harbouring Pharaonic antiquities, cultural monuments, vast coastlines and a moderate climate all year round1. Travel and tourism is one of the country’s leading economic sectors, generating about 389 billion Egyptian pounds for the GDP in 20182. Meanwhile, the quality of life for some of thew population has been declining as poverty rates increase. The main causes of poverty in Egypt are “widespread inequality caused by government corruption, a lack of employment opportunities, and an inadequate education system”3, issues which have been exacerbated in recent years by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help address these rising problems, the Egyptian government launched a national agenda in February 2016, titled ‘Egypt’s Vision 2030’. Egypt’s Vision 2030 is an ambitious plan made up of eight main objectives4:
To improve quality of life
To focus on justice, equality, and social inclusion
The formation of a more robust, competitive, and diversified economy
The improvement of knowledge, innovation, and scientific research
A greater national focus on sustainability and the environment
The development of more established governance of state institutions and society
The strengthening of peace and security for residents, brought by food & water security
To strengthen Egyptian leadership
Innovation being one of the key pillars and objectives in Egypt’s Vision 2030 agenda makes this document highly relevant to emerging SMEs. Egypt’s desire to improve knowledge and innovation result in the need for establishing close relationships with private companies and benefiting from sustainable, inclusive growth5. Egypt will be continuously searching to invest in human capital and building “scientific and practical capabilities in accordance with the latest educational systems, technical qualifications, and vocational training”6.
Various companies, such as CPC Egypt - the first Industrial Developer in Egypt, are also recruiting to contribute to the development of a competitive, balanced, and diversified economy. Companies such as this will be promoting the pillars of innovation and knowledge by supporting SMEs in the development of innovative activities. The government is also likely to establish public and private partnerships, supporting technological advancement7.
Who is this document for?
This document on Opportunities for European SMEs under Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda is aimed at:
EU investors who are willing to network, improve, and expand upon their knowledge on the key objectives of the ‘Egypt’s Vision 2030’ Agenda
Policymakers working to improve knowledge and innovation
EU SMEs with an interest in Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda and in making lasting connections and entering the market.
The following levels will provide a deeper insight into Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda and detail ways to meet the eight objectives to result in lasting change and improvements for all. They cover some of the physical and governance aspects of Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda as well as ways in which European SMEs can get involved.
Physical & Governance Aspects of Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda
A participatory planning approach was employed in preparing Egypt’s Vision 2030 strategy. Between 2014 and 2016, about 150 specialized workshops and open meetings were organized to discuss the strategy with various representatives, experts, academics, and stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, and international organizations, in order to discuss and set comprehensive objectives. As a result of these workshops, a unified agreement was reached in terms of strategic objectives, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), initiatives, and projects for each pillar of the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) for Egypt8. The development of the strategy was also supported by international finance and development institutions, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The development of a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system allows the government to closely monitor the execution of each pillar of the agenda, assessing its impact and frequently measuring the progress towards achieving the main strategic objectives.
The World Youth Forum (WYF) is another organisation heavily involved in Egypt’s Vision 2030, particularly advocating the fact that youth engagement is central to overall development and global stability, promoting the message “it is important that young people take the lead as agents for their own development rather than beneficiaries”9. In its strategy, Egypt has set out three stages to achieve sustainable development by 2030, including the return of Egyptian foreign policy to its pre-pandemic position, recovery, and progress. The WYF serves as an initiative that enables Egypt to take leadership in political, international, and regional movements that aim to activate youth’s role in managing strategic relations.
In terms of the Egyptian government, the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) is focused on a Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS), aiming to promote economic flourishing based on justice, social integrity and participation. All development plans in Egypt are incorporated under the SDS while being strongly guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)10.
How can European SMEs get involved in Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda?
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are engines of global economic growth and employment, accounting for roughly 33% of GDP and 45% of the workforce in high-income countries, as well as over 60% of GDP and 70% of employment in developing economies11.
The rising number of SMEs is crucial for economic diversification and resilience, particularly in countries vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations, such as Egypt. Therefore, European SME’s can get involved with Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda by increasing employment opportunities, achieving financial inclusion and integrating the informal economic sector, in turn leading to sustainable and inclusive growth. The encouragement of innovation and research & development is not only going to contribute to Vision 2030’s wider objective of a ‘Robust Economy’, but will also be mutually beneficial to both Egypt and the involved European SMEs, seeing as SMEs are among the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already led to considerable negative economic and social developments. Egypt’s Vision 2030 Agenda will be providing SMEs with opportunities that have been denied in previous years due to pandemic related complications, giving SMEs in particular a huge advantage as they can take advantage of their smaller sizes, relative to larger firms, and respond with more haste to technological or commercial opportunities in desirable areas such as renewable energy and biotechnology.
Another key objective of Egypt’s Vision 2030 is that of ‘Leading Stature’ which involves creating synergies and further increasing regional and international presence diplomatically through “establishing mutually beneficial country partnerships with various surrounding countries”12. This could inadvertently be another way for EU SMEs to become involved on an international level, forming partnerships which would prove mutually beneficial to both parties.
Since the announcement of the Egypt Vision 2030 strategy in 2016, the country has taken multiple steps by funding new mega-projects countrywide, including that of Hayah Karima, a comprehensive mega-project aiming to provide adequate housing, access to medicine and medical care, and educational services to those who are in need of it, particularly in remote and rural areas of Egypt. It has been reported that Hayah Karima has significantly mitigated the damages of COVID-19 and overall, across three phases, has managed to noticeably improve the livelihoods of 60 million Egyptians living in the countryside13.