Enterprise chats with IFC VP Sergio Pimenta
EXCLUSIVE- We had the chance to briefly speak last week with International Finance Corporation (IFC) Vice President for Middle East and Africa Sergio Pimenta, who gave us his thoughts on the Ismail government’s reform agenda, what the IFC likes about Egypt, and what more we can do to improve the investment climate. He statements to us come as the IFC officially announced last week that it and it partners will be investing USD 1.5 bn in Egypt in the 2018. In his own words:
We’re bullish on Egypt as reforms take hold: Egypt has been going through positive and interesting changes with its adoption of the economic reform program and we believe it is heading in the right direction. This is particularly true when it comes to monetary policy, which has helped bring stability to the country. Furthermore, we’re seeing the country begin to open up to the private sector. We like what’s already being done and what’s more important, we are starting to see results.
More reform, more private-sector involvement: On a macro level, we would like to see the government move deeper on structural reforms going forward. We would also like to see the private sector taking on a larger role, which the government can help bring about through simplifying administrative processes and improving governance regulations and bringing them to international best practices. Two things we can see helping bolster foreign direct investment if improved were issues surrounding cross-border trade and land ownership, especially concerning agricultural land.
What sectors does the IFC find attractive? Last fiscal year, we were very active on energy and particularly solar energy. We hope to replicate our approach last year to the energy sector in other sectors. The IFC is bullish on industries which it feels will have the biggest impact on job creation. This year, we have been very keen to invest across the entire agriculture value chain, including production and processing. We have also been focussing on supporting the financial sector, with particular attention paid to reaching out to SMEs and especially SMEs run by women. We’re also currently looking into infrastructure, water, and transportation, and hope to do more with them.
Speaking of the Benban solar park, we’re very happy with the progress of the project. The entire complex is very impressive in terms of size, scope and impact. The project had brought together all these investors on a giant undertaking in a very underdeveloped part of the country on a very short deadline. But more importantly is the opportunity such a project is creating among the local population. (we had noted recently that the IFC was in town to inspect progress on the Benban park.)