What is Hindering Egypt’s Modernization?

“A dollar per employee is the average annual human development budget for government personnel”, an Egyptian minister recently stated. This statement in itself is what truly prevents Egypt from becoming a modernized country! We are always concerned with upscaling the entire Egyptian population, an almost impossible mission – and one that is not required. What we really need to do is to focus on advancing the knowledge of the most promising segments of society and empowering them to lead the country.

Egypt’s limited resources are shrinking while its population (estimated at one hundred million, including overseas workers) is growing at a rapid pace. Population growth is an argument that has been regularly used by consecutive Egyptian governments to justify our overall mediocrity and explain our national inadequacies. The combination of reduced resources and exponential population growth has led Egyptian governments to resort to international grants and loans to cover our budget deficit. Although this complicates our challenges further, our governments have been unwilling to consider alternative economic policies.

The ‘arithmetic mean mindset’ is impeding Egypt’s progress; with such a large population, continuing to apply the method of distributing revenues among citizens while slightly favoring the poorer segment of the population leaves us living with a low numeric average. We need to completely abandon the ‘arithmetic mean method’ and instead invest in promising citizens who can help us to increase our wealth and pay us back within a short timeframe, then move on to the next promising segment of society, and so on. Obviously, this requires adopting a new economic philosophy, radically different to the mass-based policy currently in place.

For decades, Egyptian governments have been managing our poverty, not working to eliminate it! Allocating extra resources and subsidies to poor people, cornering wealthy citizens to get more money out of them and demanding additional international loans will help the poor to better meet their basic needs – but definitely won’t boost the economy.  In contrast, we can make better returns on our investments by giving the same amount of funds to business-oriented citizens and requiring them to employ poor citizens.

What we have been really doing in Egypt for some time is renovating our assets and facilities. This is a completely different undertaking from upscaling our country, which requires economic reforms driven by a government with a progressive mindset. The renovation approach applied over past decades gives a false impression of development, but the fact is that as long as we don’t tackle the core issue of our deficiency, we are simply wasting our resources. There is no need to train people who are either untrainable or resistant to all forms of development.

For years, we have wasted our energy and resources by sailing against the wind and complaining that the boat isn’t operating properly. Distributing national resources equally while favoring the poorer segment of society is a policy of pleasing the poor, but it will never work to modernize our country. Human development issues should be tackled based on who has both the capability and willingness to move our country forward and a commitment to pay back their debt to the country.

Poverty is not only a physical state; it is more of a mental one. Modernization requires a progressive mindset that relies less on resources and more on a way of thinking that knows how to expand wealth and tackle challenges. Therefore, it is imperative that we immediately appoint executives who can address our challenges intelligently, easily recognize government errors and work on correcting them. Being governed by mediocre mindsets and poor polices – and continuing to defend both – is increasing our economic costs and distancing us from any genuine reform.

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