Friday Prayers for Egypt: More Money

Flag Cross Quran


Egypt’s economy is still not doing well. But at least she has more money to play with. May she play wisely.

The second tranche of the World Bank loan was received, along with another installment from the African Development Bank. Together they represent well over a billion dollars.

Egypt has many outstanding debts to pay. She has a budget to meet. She has poor mouths to feed.

But she also has jobs to create, projects to complete, and infrastructure to repair.

God, help this money stimulate the economy. May it stabilize the pound and spark new investment. May it give breathing room for necessary reform.

But these loans also must be repaid. From now until then, fill Egypt’s coffers from the sweat of her own brow. Restore tourism. Develop the canal.

End corruption.

God, international lenders have confidence in Egypt. Help her to be worthy. Help her nourish a society that can put it to good use. May competition, quality, and capital flourish.

Otherwise, more money risks being the root of more evil.

Money is a great blessing, God. With it may Egypt bless many beside. Care for her people, and help them to prosper.




Friday Prayers for Egypt: Election, Debt

Flag Cross QuranGod,

Very shortly Egypt will begin two long anticipated processes. She will vote to elect a parliament, and negotiate to secure a loan. The first aims to restore a democratic institution; the second a sound economy.

Bless both efforts, God. Whether virtue or vice brought Egypt to this stage, may wisdom lead her forward.

Seven electoral lists and hundreds of individuals will compete in polls that could stretch into December. They will be tasked first with review of all laws passed in parliament’s absence, and then work with the president and cabinet to supervise the nation’s agenda.

Candidates are diverse. Leftists, liberals, and a remnant of Islamists. Supporters of the old regime. Representatives of tribal and business interests. Some criticize the entire procedure as manufactured. Some celebrate it as the completion of a democratic path.

Some, it seems, view parliament as a burden. Some don’t seem to care at all.

God, whether flawed or noble, invest these elections with importance. Rally each citizen in support of civic duty. May they pursue their local interests. May they pursue their political principles. Inspire them to be involved in the right running of their nation.

May they choose able and honorable representatives.

And of the nation’s current representatives, give them discernment in economic policy.

Billion dollar loans have been mentioned by officials, sought through the World Bank and IMF. With low interest and long repayment, some see these as the solution to meet a budget deficit and win time for necessary reforms.

As the pound devalues and tourism and direct investment lag in adequate rebound, stability is needed. Such loans signal confidence from the international community, they also tie the nation to an economic agenda. Wise men debate these matters, and disagree.

Let the wisdom filter into public discourse, God. Let the people know the challenges before them. Let them work, save, and invest to win good life for their families. Let their collective efforts win good life for Egypt.

Let Egypt repay her debts and restore her economy.

God, may politicians owe their debt to the people. May they receive it in interest a hundred times over.



Young People in Upper Egypt

From the World Bank:

This study was published about five months ago; I came across it now. Very interesting statistics:

While the great stretch of land from south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo to Lake Nasser on the border with Sudan, the area known as Upper Egypt, has only 40 percent of the country’s population, it is where 80 percent of the severe poverty is concentrated.

Consider also these figures:

  • More than half the population of Upper Egypt is under the age of 29, and one third are between the ages of 15 and 29.
  • Upper Egypt is predominantly rural with 75 percent of its young people living in rural areas.
  • Upper Egypt accounts for only 40 percent of the country’s population but 60 percent of those living in poverty and 80 percent of those living in severe poverty.
  • The country poorest 1,000 villages are almost all concentrated in three governorates in Upper Egypt.
  • Over one third of all young people in Upper Egypt are in the poorest wealth quintile.
  • The official youth unemployment rate in Upper Egypt is 16 percent, which does not count the ‘jobless,’ those neither employed nor seeking work, a state that describes almost half of all young people in Upper Egypt.
  • 70 percent of young women in upper Egypt are jobless.
  • Illiteracy rates for young people in Upper Egypt are at 17 percent, higher than the national average, with illiteracy rates for females more than twice those of males.
  • Less than 4 percent of illiterate females are employed.
  • Returns on education in Upper Egypt are high, with labor force participation rates for female university graduates as high as 58 percent, higher than the national average of 47 percent, and 84 percent for male university graduates.
  • Almost all young women in Upper Egypt with no formal education are jobless.

While it is perhaps fitting the World Bank did not make a point to inquire about the religious affiliation of these youth, it would have been useful to see the results of a scientific study. It did state in the footnotes that nearly 6% of Upper Egyptians are non-Muslims, without providing a link to source or methodology. It also called Upper Egypt one of the areas with greater Coptic concentration.

Certainly Christians here will dispute these numbers, which indicate a weakened, slowly dwindling presence. If their greatest concentrations in numbers reach only 6%, what of the rest of the nation?

Well, most emigrants from Upper Egypt wind up in Cairo or Alexandria, so perhaps scientific studies might show these cities with the greatest concentrations nowadays. It should be a simple matter to establish census figures – every Egyptian has his religion printed on his ID card – but it is too politically and religiously controversial.

On the one hand, it doesn’t matter – Egyptians are Egyptians regardless of religion. On the other hand, it means everything – if 15-20% they are grossly marginalized; if 5-6% their rights are still important but their claims are greatly diminished. Will the state and/or the church have the courage to take this issue on transparently? Or is it best for everyone if it remains purposefully ignored?

On a closing, unrelated note, I was surprised to see a link to my report on the attack on the Coptic sit-in at Maspero. I’m glad that was helpful to the World Bank.

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