Alexandria 28 November 2006—Representatives
from the Egyptian government, the private sector, and civil society gathered
recently in Alexandria to discuss the importance of reducing red tape for
businesses at a conference organized by the International Finance Corporation,
the private sector arm of the World Bank Group.
The conference provided a platform for presenting various views on how
to improve the country’s business climate. In three sessions, local and
international speakers discussed the steps investors take to start businesses,
drawing lessons from other countries.
The conference is an activity of the
Business Start-Up Simplification Project in Alexandria, a partnership between
IFC, the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones, and the governorate
of Alexandria. The project, which is managed by IFC’s regional technical
assistance facility, the Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle
East and North Africa, is building on reform efforts that are ongoing in
Alexandria and across Egypt. The project is supporting authority’s One-Stop
Shops in Egypt and the World Bank’s Alexandria Growth Pole Project to
create simpler and more transparent processes for investors. This
will encourage local and foreign investment in Alexandria by improving
the regulatory environment for businesses. It is expected that this pilot
project will be replicated throughout Egypt in the future. .
“Business-friendly regulations are a key component for creating new enterprises
and generating new jobs and income opportunities. The aim of this conference
is not to highlight the difficulties investors face in starting businesses
but rather to demonstrate how easily many of the difficulties could be
removed. This would greatly benefit not only Alexandria, but the Egyptian
economy as a whole,” said Frank Sader, Chief Strategist at IFC’s facility.
The government of Egypt has already
carried out many reforms that promote a more favorable business environment.
For example, the country has cut registration fees for new businesses,
reducing the cost by 40 percent. This reform project aims to provide further
support for these efforts and to cut the time needed to start a business
by at least 50 percent.
The International Finance Corporation,
the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral
provider of financing for private enterprise in developing countries. IFC
finances private sector investments, mobilizes capital in international
financial markets, facilitates trade, helps clients improve social and
environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice
to businesses and governments. From its founding in 1956 through FY06,
IFC has committed more than $56 billion of its own funds for private sector
investments in the developing world and mobilized an additional $25 billion
in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. With the
support of funding from donors, it has also provided more than $1 billion
in technical assistance and advisory services. For more information, visit
About PEP MENA
IFC’s PEP-MENA is a multidonor facility
for technical assistance that supports private sector development across
the Middle East and North Africa region. The facility was launched in October
2004 as part of the G8 Broader Middle East initiative. PEP-MENA focuses
on improving the business enabling environment, strengthening financial
markets, supporting SME development, and promoting privatization and public-private
partnerships. From its inception through FY06, PEP-MENA has committed more
than $20 million in technical assistance and advisory services projects.
Its activities are funded jointly by IFC and the following donors: Canada,
France, the Islamic Development Bank, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, the
United Kingdom, and the United States.