Egypt nears number two spot in Africa
Egypt has not been a notable political or economic success story in recent years.
Violence, revolution and counter-revolution have left thousands dead and the army chief who overthrew the country’s first-ever democratically elected president firmly entrenched in Cairo’s Heliopolis Palace.
Capital controls imposed to support the Egyptian pound — in the wake of a slump in tourism receipts and foreign investment and a halving of foreign exchange reserves — have left many businesses struggling to secure the dollars they need to pay for imports. Energy shortages mean manufacturers are having to contend with frequent power cuts.
Yet, according to one investment bank at least, Egypt’s economy has come within a whisker of overtaking that of South Africa as the continent’s second largest in dollar terms — heaping further ignominy on the latter, which lost its pole position to Nigeria in 2014.
“It is almost an aberration, but I still think it’s a shock,” says Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, who drew up the figures.
According to RenCap, Egypt’s gross domestic product will reach $315bn this year, just a fraction behind the $317bn of South Africa (see chart). Details