Ahmed Heikal, Chairman and Founder of Qalaa Holdings joined heads of state and global CEO’s at the 2018 World Economic Forum which called for “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”
Against the backdrop of the IMF’s newly-released review of the Egyptian economy which gave the government’s reform program full marks as evidenced by declining inflation and a narrowing budget deficit, Qalaa Chairman and Founder Ahmed Heikal voiced his optimism about Egypt’s prospects for 2018 at the 48th annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
“The Egyptian economy is clearly moving in the right direction. The government’s reform program which began in earnest in late 2016 with the floatation of the Egyptian pound, the gradual removal of energy subsidies and the implementation of VAT, remains on track. In recent months we have seen macroeconomic stability return and investor confidence rise on the back of policy stability, a new investment law and a welcoming investment climate,” said Heikal.
He went on to explain that today, the government of Egypt is not only willing to listen to the grievances of the private sector but it’s also taking steps to address constraints and solve disputes that may stand in the way of investment whether its FDI or local investment.
“I believe that one of the most important things that has happened is that the government is now clearly willing to back the private sector,” said Heikal.
Blended finance, or the pooling of public and private funds to invest in key infrastructure and energy projects that serve development goals, was one of the main topics of discussion at this year’s WEF which focused on ways to make global growth more inclusive.
Qalaa Holdings has been a regional pioneer in structuring and deploying this type of funding early on. As early as 2010 they were able to tap into equity and debt from private investors, development finance institutions and export credit agencies for its USD 3.7 bn Egyptian Refining Company (ERC), Egypt’s largest in progress, private sector infrastructure megaproject which is now near completion. ERC has the potential to more than halve Egypt’s present-day diesel imports and reduce by nearly one-third the country’s current sulfur emissions when it starts production.
While acknowledging that private equity deal flow has been weak in recent years, Heikal is optimistic that it will pick up in the near future. “Geopolitical tensions in the region coupled with a drop in oil prices meant that there was reduced appetite and insufficient funding for private equity investments but the situation is starting to improve. We are seeing oil prices move back up to reasonable levels so it’s only a matter of time until we see deal flow return to the region,” said Heikal.
Heikal was also a participant in a WEF session on Peacebuilding in Africa which was attended by Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Alpha Condé President of Guinea, João Lourenço, President of Angola, Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe and Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Participants discussed the importance of peace-building in Africa and how it can be developed and deployed through multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Qalaa Holdings (CCAP.CA on the Egyptian Stock Exchange) is an African leader in energy and infrastructure. Formerly known as Citadel Capital, Qalaa Holdings controls subsidiaries in industries including Energy, Cement, Agrifoods, Transportation & Logistics, and Mining. To learn more, please visit qalaaholdings.com.
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