Al-Sisi replaces Suez Canal zone head

01 May 2017

Investors are concerned with the new chairman’s lacking business and private sector experience

Egypt’s president Abdul Fatah al-Sisi has issued a decree appointing Mohab Mameesh as the chairman of the General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone).

The decree replaces Ahmed Darwish, who served as the SCZone’s chairman for almost two years.

Mameesh is now the chairman of the SCZone and the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, which is the overriding governing body for the waterway.

The move comes after two years of Darwish at the helm of the SCZone leading its efforts to attract foreign and local investments for the proposed industrial and logistics area that will surround the canal.

Spread over 500 square kilometres, the development corridor is intended to be home to firms involved in shipping, logistics, information and communications technology (ICT), and energy services.

The zone will be centred around six ports along the Suez Canal, with the aim of driving 9 per cent of global seaborne trade through the zone by 2030.

The move will frustrate some international investors who will be concerned with Mameesh’s lacking business and private sector experience. Mameesh, who is a decorated army veteran holding the title of Admiral, is well regarded within Egypt’s armed forces, but has been accused of possessing little business acumen.

International investors across a number of sectors have previously told MEED that the ease of doing business in Egypt is often affected by the role of the armed forces.

The latest move does little to appease these concerns, with many international firms now having to deal directly with Mameesh and his team, which is likely to be made up of army generals and officials.

The military’s growing role in the Egyptian economy

Transition: Al-Sisi now faces the challenge of building up the institutional legitimacy of his rule

Transition: Al-Sisi now faces the challenge of building up the institutional legitimacy of his rule

In a public speech earlier in October President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said that the Armed Forces do not account for more than 1.5 per cent of Egypt’s GDP.

This statement was dismissed by analysts and some ordinary Egyptians with a general view that Egypt’s Armed Forces actually dominates the Egyptian economy with the army’s ventures spanning across a number of key sectors.

In 2015 when Al-Sisi took office after overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood, he said that Egypt’s army would “step in when needed to support Egypt’s economy and lead it to recovery.” Most Egyptians welcome the army’s intervention and public opinion often supports the armed forces over both the private and public sector. Off the back of this support, Egypt’s army has continued its expansion over the past year. Read more.

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