Procter & Gamble expects Egypt’s economic growth could return to levels seen before the country’s 2011 popular uprising within three years, but the government needs to make life easier for investors, the company’s general manager for the region said.
Mohamed Sultan, general manager and vice president, Near East, expressed confidence that stability had returned to the Arab country with its huge market of about 90 million people.
“Within three years Egypt can be posting these numbers,” he said, referring to economic growth of 5-7 percent Egypt achieved before the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak, compared to 2-3 percent now.
Egypt is trying to secure its fragile recovery by conveying an investor-friendly image in the run-up to an investment conference in March.
Sultan declined to give any profit forecasts or details on Procter & Gamble’s investment plans in the country but he was cautiously optimistic.
“I think we have been through the worst. We are able to do business. That gives you confidence. I think we are heading in the right direction,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Egypt’s currency is a critical factor for foreign investors, particularly the persistence of a black market and constraints on dollar outflows.
Sultan said exports allowed his company to secure funds but stressed that dealing with the foreign exchange issue would make Egypt more attractive to foreign investors.
“The biggest challenges for big companies is the dollar,” said Sultan. “A number of ideas are being studied with the banks that will make access to forex easier.”
Procter & Gamble, one of the biggest non-oil sector investors in Egypt, sees growth potential in household detergents and cleaning products as well as the diaper market.
“Consumption per capita is still quite low compared to neighboring markets,” Sultan said.
Procter & Gamble exports 35 percent of its products to 37 countries, he said. It believes Africa offers the most growth potential, especially Kenya.
Cheaper imports from Turkey, Malaysia and China, meanwhile, are posing a challenge in Egypt, Sultan said.