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Egypt is alongside Fiji, Jamaica and Tonga, heading towards the dunces in Burkina Faso and Somalia.

Philip WhitfieldBy Philip Whitfield

Saving a million dollars turning off street lamps echoes Jimmy Carter skulking round the White House switching the lights off.

What happened to him?

The electorate carted cardigan-clad Carter out of the Oval Office back to his peanut farm.

Ronald Reagan arrived in DC, lit the chandeliers and began the biggest economic boom in living memory.

Morsy’s right to shilly-shally with the IMF. He’s wrong to make infecund gestures.

Last time Egypt went cap-in-hand, looking for $400 million in the early ‘90s, Mubarak eventually got the IMF off his back by raising  $1.25 billion in privatisations.

Spool forward to May 2011. Mubarak’s mockers rushed to the IMF for cash. Since then the two have been haggling.

Morsy’s marooned. The IMF heralds beggared cities and ragged rustics. His new best buddies in Iran are living hand-to-mouth themselves. The Greeks have run Europe’s kitty dry.

The US Congress is threatening to turn off their faucet: Cutting the $1.5 billion civil aid to Egypt drastically – balking over 200 Abram tanks and 20 F-16 fighters finished yet awaiting in hangars.

Simply put, the US should not be providing military assistance to a regime that supports Hamas and is looking more and more like a dictatorship than a trustworthy democracy, says Republican representative Vern Buchanan.

Giving the Muslim Brotherhood state-of-the-art fighter jets is a dangerous idea, he says.

The ground is shifting. The IMF is strapped for cash bailing out Europe. They only scrimped together $35 billion for post Arab Spring lending – less than 10% of what’s required. Now Egypt has joined Greece in the junk bond market.

It’s not that the IMF’s chief lenders America, Japan and Europe don’t care. Each has its own mountain of debt.

Urging Egypt to cut back on spending is the pot calling the kettle black. They can’t get their own electorates to take the medicine.

What could be done?

Ask the people.

It worked for Jerry Brown, governor of California – an economy 10 times bigger than Egypt’s with a deficit to match. Voters said Yes to $8bn in tax hikes a few weeks ago.

Now he’s sitting on a hoard of cash to invest in social programmes after he put austerity measures on the ballot.

He’s allocating $2.6bn to help poor students get a decent education. He claims California can escape boom and bust, borrowing and spending with promises made to be taken back.

Sound familiar?

Mubarak’s critics focus on corruption. Equally egregious is the sly way Mubarak denied a proper education to the masses.

True enough foreign colleges have opened up. The fees are nose bleeding, way beyond most people’s means.

Morsy’s falling into Mubarak’s hole.

Last year Egypt was downgraded 21 places by the United Nations in the global league table measuring the capacity and willingness of countries to use IT to improve knowledge and information.

South Korea tops the world followed by the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark and the US.

Egypt is alongside Fiji, Jamaica and Tonga, heading towards the dunces in Burkina Faso and Somalia. Egypt’s Middle East competitors have streaked ahead.

Rather than flip-flop ministers and play blame games, Egypt could use brains and bytes to get a grip.

Computer boffins have scaled another Mount Everest. They’ve overcome the challenges of harnessing the explosion of data, social media traffic, the growth of channels and devices and the shifting consumer demographics.

From now on you can be a fly on the wall monitoring billions of messages in stunning 3D.

What does it mean?

According to global business gurus McKinsey, much higher productivity and greater competitiveness. Business profits surge. Government waste is slashed. Healthcare improves. Cheaper energy is delivered efficiently. Plentiful food is less costly. Knowledge is ubiquitous.

The breakthrough has thrown up two million new jobs for trained people in the US alone. With the right education, Egypt could steal a march, developing the skills for companies at home and abroad.

Where’s Egypt?

Probably where Singapore was. When it rains taxis are nowhere to be found.

You’d be wrong to think it’s because everyone takes a cab to avoid puddles. Using analytical computer skills, it was discovered cabbies pull into the curb in a downpour.

Why?

They have to come up with a $1,000 bond if they’re involved in a fender bender, which is most likely on slick roads.

Outcome? Altered bond; taxis abound.

Why can’t it happen in Morsy’s Egypt?

Innovation empowers kids from all social backgrounds. Innovation challenges the ruling classes from whatever ilk. Innovation is anathema to fundamentalists. Innovation liberates women.

Eternity’s Noah’s Ark conquers history’s hiccups.

Dumb doubters drown.

Philip Whitfield is a Cairo commentator


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