Long a regional heavyweight, Egypt’s industrial sector boasts a variety of segments that have helped make the country one of Africa’s biggest cement producers and its second-largest steel manufacturer. Still, industry, in particular light manufacturing, has had to grapple with the turmoil that followed the 2011 revolution, in the form of issues such as labour unrest and a deterioration in the security environment. Given its proximity to major export destinations such as Europe and the Middle East, as well as its huge domestic market, the country remains highly competitive in many sectors. Moreover, various trade agreements bolster its attractiveness as an export centre. The outlook for overall industrial performance will depend to a large extent on economic growth in key export markets such as Europe.
Despite being home to the largest population in the Arab world, Egypt hosts comparatively few modern large-scale retail supermarkets, hypermarkets and malls – and almost none away from the major cities of Cairo and Alexandria or tourist areas – making for enormous growth potential. In 2011/12 the value of activity in the sector was $23.66bn at current prices, and wholesale and retail trade accounted for 10.6% of GDP by factor costs. Growth in the retail sector has closely mirrored wider economic growth in Egypt in recent years and the development of the sector is likely to depend heavily on broader economic trends.
This chapter contains interviews with Mounir Fakhry AbdelNour, Minister of Trade and Industry; Osman Saifullah Khan, CEO, SAIF Group; and Mohamed Farag Amer, Chairman, Faragalla Group.