ince being sworn into office, Al Sisi, 64, says he has brought stability and security to a country rocked by uncountable terrorist threats. This was seen as the ground zero to attack economic development. On the second half of his first mandate, Al-Sisi launched what he called “big bang projects” while reinforcing the cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with some unprecedented decisions.
Security is undoubtedly one of the key areas Al-Sisi has focused on during his first mandate. If Egypt wants to make foreign investments come back, the situation must be constantly under control. In November 2017, terrorists killed more than 300 people at a mosque in the Sinai.
That was the deadliest attack since ISIS has established active cells in the Peninsula. Even if “brute force” was used against Islamist insurgency groups in the Sinai with heavy weapons and thousands of army soldiers, “security has not remarkably improved as “we” still have attacks, even in Cairo”, Jan Claudius Volkel, a researcher at the Institute for European Studies, said to Euronews.
While Al-Sisi’s supporters argue that the situation improved, years of intense military action are still to come. The other key focus of Al-Sisi’s first rule has been economic development.
The gap between macroeconomic figures and what the reality looks like for most Egyptians
A plethora of investments ranging from the expansion of the Suez Canal to a yet-to-be-named new administrative capital is seen as the solution to the problems Egypt is facing. “For the first time, we are dealing with an integrated development solution where, together with the industrial and investment zone, there’s a whole society and full services that provide people with entertainment as well as schools, health facilities and housing”, Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr told TRT World.
The government claims to have been very successful in what Al-Sisi calls “big bang projects”. In addition, the International Monetary Fund approved a three-year $12 billion bailout programme for Egypt in 2016 in exchange of drastic economic measures and a 48% Egyptian pound devaluation to secure the loan.
Al-Sisi says major improvements have already been seen (the rise of reserve currencies at their highest levels since 2011). However, observers say that there is a gap between macroeconomic figures and what the reality for most Egyptians looks like. “The economy is not particularly strong with tourism revenues down, inflation at almost record highs and the Egyptian pound incredibly weakened as a result of a massive devaluation”, said Samer Shehata, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the University of Oklahoma.
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