Guest post from Ghanem Nuseibeh, Founder of Cornerstone Global Associates and Senior Visiting Fellow at King’s College London
The regime change in Egypt, as historical as it may be, will be easily dwarfed in its impact by an economic miracle on the scale of Britain’s Industrial Revolution.
Regardless of the causes of the Egypt’s regime change, the most positive effect it had is the removal of a complex, quasi-governmental system of exceptional corruption that stifled the chances of economic development.
That has gone, for good.
What remains within Egyptian society are factors that are often seen as challenges and risks, but with the right policies and catalysts, can have a transformative impact on Egypt and the whole of the Arab region.
Those include the military’s grip on large chunks of the country’s economy, a high demographic growth rate and an unemployed youth bulge. Those are precisely the ingredients that Israel needed to create its so-called “Start-Up Nation” economic miracle in the early 1990’s.
Egypt may even have more favourable conditions than Israel’s: it has regional market access and regional capital.
The plan: A $2 billion fund that gives grants to scientists and engineers to develop products, perhaps under the umbrella of the military, can not only lead to creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, but give Egypt years and years of economic growth. Such an initiative would need Gulf financial commitment, who should see this as an investment that will generate wealth, rather than a cost.
Achieving this will not be easy, but will create an economic miracle that has the potential to be as big as the Industrial Revolution.
The government, the military as well as Gulf backers all have a role to play in ensuring that a Gulf-backed mega venture capital-like fund run under the auspices of the Egyptian military becomes the nucleus of the Arab Economic Spring.