UNCTAD and the International Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to promote investment in least developed countries, especially in Africa. The UN, business and governments are working together on practical investment guides which dispel the myth that there are no investment opportunities in these countries.
UNCTAD prepared an Investment Policy Review of Egypt, which was presented to representatives of multinationals at a Workshop in 1999. The Review confirmed the upsurge in the Egyptian economy. Macroeconomic policies pursued since 1991 have successfully redressed internal and external imbalances. Egypt enjoys a low inflation rate. Compared to many countries in the region, the factor inputs such as electricity, telephone and shipping costs are competitive.
Microsoft Egypt believes that Egypt’s large domestic market of 65 million people is a certain lure for foreign companies to invest heavily in the country. Thus far, market penetration has been low with only 500.000 personal computers and the market itself, for instance, is “thirsty” for information technology. In addition, Egypt’s strategic location in the Mediterranean offers a tremendous opportunity for expansion into the Middle East and Africa, as well as for out-sourcing. The representative underlined that the country could not become a global IT power house overnight.
However, there was still room for improvement in the business environment. Most participants pointed to the need to create new business network, that cut across family ties and business lines. This was essential for creating a business community that can speak for business as a whole rather than for particular sectoral interests.