Egypt could privatise two or three government-controlled oil and gas companies through public share sale in the first year of its privatisation programme.

The programme to monetise state assets will last for three-to-five years will start with oil and gas companies but will also include the government-owned banks, news reports cited Ashraf el-Ghazaly, the chief executive of NI Capital, which is part of the state-owned National Investment Bank, as saying.

NI Capital is a sovereign privately managed financial institution set up to lead the transformation and the growth of the Egyptian economy. The company acts as a consulting authority for the government and manages governmental investment funds.

The Egyptian presidency in January announced that it planned to sell shares of “successful” government-owned companies and banks to the public, the first such move since 2005, when it offered shares in Telecom Egypt, Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals and Alexandria Mineral Oils Company (AMOC).

However, nothing concrete has emerged since the initial announcement in terms of which of the state-assets have been selected for public floats or when the IPOs will take place.

The state owns vast swathes of the economy, including three of its largest banks along with much of its oil industry and huge parts of its real estate. However, Egyptian economy has struggled since popular uprising to oust former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Political instability has driven foreign investors and tourists away and the growth is under pressure with long-standing foreign currency issues, which have deterred fresh investments in the country.

Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla in early August said that Egypt was studying the possibility of selling shares in eight of the government-owned petroleum firms and the Ministry of Investment will assess the suitability of these companies for listing on local bourse.

However, Hamdy Abdel-Aziz, a spokesman for the Ministry of Petroleum on 7 August told local newswire Amwal Al-Ghad that Egypt has no plans to IPO fully government-owned oil and gas firms, instead the government is considering public floats of only the joint ventures between the government and the foreign oil companies.

Egyptian media reports have suggested that Cairo is lining up 17 or 18 state-owned companies for IPOs, which are thought to include banks, petroleum, petrochemical companies and electricity firms.