Private sector development and financial services

Egypt’s post-revolution period saw a sharp economic downturn and political uncertainty which resulted in a contraction of the economy and an aggravation of pre-existing economic challenges and regional inequalities. National unemployment rate is on the rise and stood at 13.4% through the fourth quarter of 2013. Youth constitutes 69% of the total unemployed. Unemployment is particularly high among women with 25.1% – almost triple the rate of men at 9.9%.

Diversifying the sources of economic and employment growth is of crucial importance. One potential source of growth are micro and small enterprises (MSEs), which over the past ten years have made an important contribution to GDP growth and job creation. However, access to finance for the private sector in general and for MSEs in particular remains limited.

Egypt further faces challenges both in the water sector and on the infrastructure level. The challenged share of the Nile waters exacerbates the scarcity of water resources. Deteriorating infrastructures, such as water and waste water treatment plants, roads and power plants, have severe consequences for the country’s population.

Switzerland’s support in the domain of Economic Development and Employment consists of the following lines of action:

  1. Basic Urban Infrastructure and Utilities Support (SECO)
  2. Management of Resources in Rural and Small Towns (SDC)
  3. International Competitiveness and Macro-economic Stability (SECO)
  4. Job Creation, Access to Finance and Strengthen Entrepreneurship (SECO, SDC)
  5. Micro Small Enterprises and Local Industries (SECO, SDC)

Project Examples: 

  • Integrated Sanitation & Sewerage Infrastructure: Technical assistance for a project to construct water treatment and sewage plants in the three government regions of the Nile Delta.
  • Water Programme Aswan: Access to quality drinking water and more efficient water usage and Water Efficiency and Economic Support in Nasr El Nuba and Kom Ombo, Aswan Governorate.
  • Egyptian Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: Development of the efficiency, transparency and rapidity of response of the market to the value chain of production of medicinal and aromatic plants.
  • WorldFish: Improving employment and income through development of Egypt's aquaculture sector: Developing a programme for creating jobs by strengthening the production, distribution and sale of fish from fish farms; this project will also help to improve the nutrition of poorer populations, as fish is the cheapest protein-rich food source.
  • Youth Employment in Aswan Governorate Project (in preparation): Aims to promote youth employment and create employment opportunities in Aswan for unemployed young men and women.
  • Hospital Hazardous Waste Management (in preparation): Health facility staff and the population of Dakhalia Governorate benefit from an efficiently and sustainably functioning healthcare waste management system.
  • National Solid Waste Management Programme (in preparation): To make a significant contribution to sustainable protection of the climate and environment, to protect the natural resources and to reduce health risks for the population of Egypt.
  • Improved Water and Waste Water Services Programme (in preparation): Contribute to the improvement of the water and wastewater services in the governorates of Qena, Sohag, Assiut and Minya.

Unemployment and underemployment remain the most serious development problems facing partner countries of the SDC. Only if people have access to productive, reasonably paid employment that enables them to earn an income, can global poverty be sustainably reduced and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) be achieved.

The SDC's worldwide engagement