Egypt has announced the signing of a number of deals to sell state assets worth $1.9bn in a bid to boost its private sector.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly made the announcement late on Tuesday.
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The contracts are seen as vital to ease pressure on the Egyptian pound, bolster hard currency reserves, and enable a number of economic reforms under a $3bn IMF loan programme.
The new contracts include the sale of stakes in the state-owned communications company Telecom Egypt; minority stakes in three oil and petrochemical sector companies to Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ for $800m; $700m for stakes in a portfolio of hotels to ICON, the hospitality arm of Egyptian real estate group Talaat Mostafa and a stake in the Ezz Dekheila steel company worth $241m.
Madbouly said the government is one-quarter of its way in a list of 32 state companies it will sell stakes in as the most populous Arab country continues to grapple with a crippling economic crisis.
Egypt is among the world’s top wheat importers, and its economy has taken a battering since Russia invaded Ukraine, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, last year.
Since Russia’s invasion, Egypt’s currency has depreciated by nearly half, prompting foreign investors to pull more than $20bn out of Egyptian treasury markets, and inflation reached record levels.
According to government figures, about a third of Egypt’s 105 million people live in poverty.
In April 2022, Egypt announced a plan to attract investments worth $10bn in the next four years – privatisation measures it also needs to meet a number of foreign debt obligations in the next few months.
The government’s target was to raise $2bn from stake sales by the end of June, but delays further drove down the value of the Egyptian pound.
Egypt has plans to sell more stakes in the coming months, including in the Gabal el-Zeit wind farm, military-owned Wataniya Petroleum and a power plant built by Siemens, said Planning Minister Hala el-Said.