FAO in Egypt

Egypt at a glance

The Arab Republic of Egypt is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. The country covers an area of 1001450 km2. Due to the extreme aridity of Egypt's climate, population, 96 million inhabitants are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, while 98 percent live on only 3 percent of the territory.

Egypt is divided into twenty-seven governorates, which include four city governorates (Alexandria, Cairo, Port Said and Suez), nine located in Lower Egypt (in the Nile Delta region), nine in Upper Egypt along the Nile River from Cairo to Aswan, and five frontier governorates covering Sinai and the deserts that lie west and east of the Nile.

Egypt is a lower middle-income country, its Human Development Index (HDI). for 2014 was 0.690— which put the country in the medium human development category—positioning it at 108 out of 188 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2014, Egypt’s HDI rose from 0.453 to 0.690, an increase of 52.3 percent, with an average annual increase of about 1.25 percent. It is noted that between 1980 and 2014, Egypt’s life expectancy at birth increased by 12.8 years, and the mean years of schooling increased by 4.5years. Egypt’s GNI per capita increased by about 153.9 percent between 1980 and 2014. Demographic factors, an increase in population of 25 million between 2000 – 2016, have direct effects on projections for the economy and the needs for housing, employment, social infrastructure as well as for the provision of water and other basic services.

Economic growth reached 3.5 percent in 2017, after four years of slow growth. The first quarter of FY16 witnessed subdued growth (of 3 percent, from 5.6 percent a year earlier), indicating stifled production. Unemployment inched downwards (to 12.8 percent in the H1-FY15 versus 13.3 percent a year earlier), albeit partially reflecting dropouts from the labour force. The latter participation rate dropped to 46 percent of the adult population (those above 15 years old) versus 50 percent at end-2010.

The economy depends heavily on agriculture, tourism and cash remittances from Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The agricultural sector is the third-largest economic sector, but its share in the GDP declined from 16 per cent in the 1990s to almost 14 per cent in 2010 and to 11 percent in 2015. It is estimated that about 24 million Egyptians (or more than one-quarter of the population) work in the farming and fishing industries.

Historically Egypt has always seen itself as farming nation. Agriculture development is considered a duty of the state, as recently reaffirmed in the 2014 constitution. The Agriculture Sector provides livelihoods for 55 percent of the population and directly employs about 30 percent of the labour force. The sector accounts for about 20 percent of total exports and foreign exchange earnings. However, Egypt imports about 40 percent of its food requirements and incurs a total food import bill of USD2.5 billion per year.