Egypt, the land of centuries old pyramids and a food basket in the desert. The country was in the news for all good reasons including economic power and development. However, that was until about five years ago when the Egyptian revolution of 2010 began. Since then, the country has been embroiled in leadership wrangles with the citizens challenging every other election of a new leader after Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power. With violent and non-violent protests in Cairo and other major cities, the fundamentals of development were put to test and the implications of the uprising included the loss of live, many labor hours, and economic resources. The results of this uprising included the burning down of structures, closure of financial markets for long periods of time during which the uprising lasted, and the almost dead tourism industry in the country. The bottom line, bad leadership and governance hurt the country’s growth and development economic agenda.
The Egyptian uprising was seen as the boiling over of the longstanding dissatisfaction of the country’s citizens with the continuous and incessant misuse of power the then 30-years long leadership of President Hosni Mubarak. Over the period of his leadership, Hosni Mubarak was continuously accused of manipulating the elections as a means of remaining in power. The president was continuously accused of coercion and corruption and in 2005, Hosni Mubarak was the only candidate in the presidential elections with a no or yes votes cast. Well, the president won massively in all elections but he did not at one time allow democracy and fairness to prevail in the country and when international electoral process observers showed interest in the country’s politics, Hosni Mubarak shoved them off.
He year 2010 ought to be the year of another general election in Egypt but the citizens would not allow the president to continue oppressing the people. At this time the fear was not about the president refusing to cede power to another person but because the citizens feared the electoral process would be manipulated to have Gamal Mubarak inheriting power from his father. Over the ten years to the January 25 uprising Hosni Mubarak’s health was al shaky and doubtful yet for a very limited time did Hosni Mubarak have another person deputizing him in the presidency in the official capacity of the position. Instead, the ailing president was assisted by his son Gamal Mubarak and there, the succession of power and inheritance politics were imminent. That is how the January 25, 2010 uprising began with the citizens seeking the demanding to have Hosni Mubarak ousted from power and preventing Gamal Mubarak from becoming the de facto president after his father. Hosni Mubarak was succeeded by President Morsi but again, leadership flaws led to his ousting and currently, Egypt is led by General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi who has at least committed to non-interference in the judicial system.
The above brief account of the Egyptian revolution helps to shed light on the core matter that has been affecting the country’s structural and economic development. From the analysis, it is evident that poor leadership caused social strife and struggles in the society. The economy was rather stable before the beginning of the revolution. Nevertheless, the political environment was shaky and full of uncertainties. The hiccups in political leadership led to the exit of foreign investors from the country in addition to which the citizens suffered from acute unemployment and poor standards of life. The past leadership made corruption its forte and development its foot thereby leading the people to over rely on subsidized products from the government.
A nation’s economic and structural dependent is highly dependent on the stability of its systems. Majorly, investors who are the key drivers of development require that at least the political environment gets stable and predictable as this helps the investors in assessing the political risk. Secondly, development can only thrive in an environment where financial and economic stability can be predicted. In real sense, the three frontiers and drivers of development in a country largely depend political stability. This is because the markets react to policies developed by the leaders and if the leaders lack competitive and policies, investors channel their money to countries and economies where the political, financial, and economic risks are lower by virtue of having strong and credible leadership in place. Poor political leadership has been persistent leading to the persistent development woes of the country hence the need to address the political leadership issues.
Other than the investors’ facet of development in a country, structural and economic development also relies on the ability of the leadership to enhance the living conditions of its people. In Egypt, the uprising emanate not from the leadership quarters of the country but from the dissatisfied citizens. In economic terms, Egypt’s uprising represents a case where the economic sacrifices of the country’s citizens in terms of levies and tax payments exceeded the economic benefits that the citizens derived from government services. These concepts are explained under the theory of marginal benefits whereby social strife gets related to situations where the citizens feel that the marginal social benefits are lower than the marginal social sacrifices made through tax payments. In the case Egypt for instance, the monies collected from taxation and other levies were channeled towards corrupt government processes as well as in furthering political crimes such as the dictatorial power succession. For economic and structural development to take place in a country then the leadership must ensure that the marginal social sacrifices made by the country’s people do not exceed the marginal social benefits.
To begin with the Egyptians need a real commitment to proper political leadership. In the first place, the poor and unstable political environment emanated from the fact that the citizens of the country were not confident with the manner in which President Hosni Mubarak conducted the leadership affairs of the country. President Morsi came in through an election and instead of addressing the flaws of the previous system, he furthered some policies such as the continued support of the Muslim Brotherhood and this causes mayhem in the country until he was ousted again in 2014 by the current leader President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. The political environment currently appears cool and promising despite having the president taking over leadership of the country through a coup. Nevertheless, the president has shown signs dependable and development conscious leadership in the country. He promised non-interference in the country’s judicial system and in the most recent activity his government is attempting to re-establish its bilateral business ties with countries like Kenya in East Africa. While the political environment is tentatively stable and development finding its way back, it is still not clear for how long the country will enjoy the development friendly political environment. However, one can almost predict that the status quo will be maintained as long as the president offers good leadership to his country.
Secondly, it is recommended that the country amends its constitution to provide structures and policies that will guide the leadership of the country in the long run. When President Morsi was elected into power in 2011 he promised that he would suspend the constitution. This indicates that the country’s constitution does not adequately address the country’s leadership and development issues. The suspension of the constitution was therefore appropriate but at least it ought to have been accompanied by goodwill efforts towards the enactment of laws and development of policies addressing the country’s leadership problems. Instead of taking this route, President Morsi started interfering with the judicial process thereby causing more problems to the already ailing political environment. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has apparently won the hearts of his citizens and political stability and development may prevail during his reign However, he needs to consider putting in place measures that ensure that the country will be politically, economically, and socially stable in the long-run. This requires the government to establish clear leadership structures in the constitution including a clause requiring that a sitting president leads the country for a maximum of two terms.
In light of the dependency school of thought, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi must put in place measures and programs not only to ensure that Egypt does not continue to be dependent on other states for its development but also to ensure that the Egyptians are not continuously dependent on subsidized goods and services. This would require the government to put in place economic stimulus programs to help the citizens reconstruct and rebuild their lifestyles after years of social strife and by doing so, the government would ensure that it attends to the citizens’ cognitive development in feeling that the marginal social sacrifice does not overly exceed the marginal social benefits.
In closing, Egypt’s development problem relates to poor political leadership in the country. The problem has been persistent over more than three decades. However, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi seems to be providing a turn-around in the country’s political environment a move that would see the country back to its development track. To achieve the full development potential, Egypt should consider amending its constitution, reducing dependency, and ensure commitment to credible leadership.