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Sisi: Egypt needs $200-$300 bn for development

Call for further aid and investment made as contracts worth billions in dollars signed at special conference at Red Sea resort
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at the end of the Egypt economic development conference in Sharm el-Sheikh (AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told potential foreign investors on Sunday his country needs $200-$300 bn for development.

“Egypt needs at least $200-$300 [bin] to develop,” Sisi said. “I know Egypt and its problems … Egypt needs at least $200-$300 bn so that there is real hope for the 90 million [population].”

The comments were made at the closing ceremony of the Egypt Economic Development Conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. According to Egyptian Investment Minister Ashraf Salman Egypt managed to sign investment contracts worth $33 bn at the gathering, in addition to penning memoranda of understanding to the value of $92 bn.

It is unclear whether or not the $200-$300 bn figure included the amounts pledged or not. 

Egypt had long suffered from high unemployment rates and vast economic inequality which helped to spark the January 2011 uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. However, since Mubarak's overthrow the economy declined further as tourism dropped, investment decreased and foreign currency reserves fell. 

Sisi's Gulf allies pumped billions into the economy last year in an attempt to stabilise the economy. The Egyptian government, which forecasts 4 percent economic growth in 2014/2015, up from 2.1 percent the previous fiscal year, now hopes to lure in even more overseas money to revive its fiscal fortunes. 

The three-day, high-profile meeting attracted more than 100 countries and dozens of international and regional corporations to hear of Egypt’s goal to double its foreign investment, mostly in energy and real estate projects that were revealed at the gathering.

On the first day alone, Egypt secured more than $19 bn worth of investment, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates each pledging $4 bn.

Sisi said that a similar conference should be held every year and urged investors to work closely with his government to support the ailing economy.