World Bank shifts focus to Egypt’s private sector with $1 billion loan

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By Aidan Lewis

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) – The World Bank is pushing to prise open more space for Egypt’s private sector with $1 billion in new funding, part of a second phase of support that follows two years of painful economic reforms, the bank’s regional vice-president said.

The funding, signed on Sunday, comes on top of $3.15 billion of World Bank budget support provided since 2015 as Egypt floated its exchange rate and cut subsidies, triggering steep inflation that has since eased.

“This is an economy that is now standing on its two feet after a few years of heavy, extremely daring economic reforms,” Ferid Belhaj, World Bank vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an Africa business forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“The economy’s standing, now it needs to walk, and we believe that the private sector is really the driver.”

Egypt’s macro-economic indicators have improved since the country began implementing a reform program drawn up with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2016, but the economy remains fragile.

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