I do not belong to those who justify administrative underdevelopment and failures of the state using terms like ‘The Deep State’, taboos on the absence of qualified people, and continues accusations of corruption and laziness against employees. This is because there is a manager, or a minister, or a prime minister, who has for decades neglected the leaps and developments witnessed by the world in all fields.
In the absence of the concepts and rules of accountability, responsibility, and management in accordance with the goals, the public employee has always been a scapegoat for the failures of the central administration apparatus that was and still is managing the country.
We cannot speak about growth in the Egyptian economy and solving accumulated social problems without first speaking about those responsible for the administrative body, seeking their involvement in any targeted reform or development process.
A year ago, at the time the Competitiveness Report was being announced, I suggested to the Minister of Planning Ashraf El Arabi to organise an annual meeting for government administration, including the President and the Prime Minister, similar to the governmental summit in the UAE that was launched three years ago. Such meeting can be used to liaise with managers of different bodies, to incorporate them in the government’s plans, to present them with a clear view for the Egyptian economy and the annual changes of performance indicators, and to grant clear incentives for those able to achieve predetermined goals.
In a voluntary creative step that gives optimism and hope in the country’s future, a conference about administrative development and innovation will be held on 11-12 October. The conference is being organised by “T20 organization”, which is group of Egyptian alumni who have studied at global schools.
It consists of 700 Egyptian members who are working in major international companies and are alumni of the most prestigious business administration colleges. The conference is to be held under the patronage of the Ministry of Planning.
To culminate this effort, I appeal to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to support this conference and attend the opening or closing session, and to announce clearly that the government is committed to implement the conference recommendations through a national integrated programme to develop the state’s administrative body in cooperation with this group of experts that volunteer for Egypt.
Mr. President, you have to listen to these people and see how they view Egypt’s future, away from those who live in the past and do not see anything except regressing to it, the complexity of the prevailing problems, the laziness of employees, and the supporters of the “Egypt cannot” doctrine.
The organisers of this event are a group of young Egyptians and leaders who got the highest degrees of education, and work at major global and local institutions of international standards that practice business for competition. This eliminates the argument of not having enough efficiencies and expertise to utilise in government administration. The advisory role experts are providing voluntarily refutes the notion that they refuse to work with the government due to the maximum wage.
Reluctance to accept public jobs remains a challenge as managers are not protected from being held accountable for errors that may result from their decisions at work. Moreover, means of deliberate non-cooperation with those taking jobs at the administrative system from outside the job ladder are uncountable.
Before we lose our optimism compass, the conference answers difficult questions in administrative reform; where to begin? Who do we start with? What do we do? How did others do it? And why should we improve to begin with?
The goal set by conference organizers, who work under the name ‘For Egypt’, is how to increase government revenues to enable state to increase its spending capacity on education, health, and other services.
The goal is based on the participation of employees in the state’s administrative apparatus, and not excluding them. The way to do so is by developing the system itself, not by creating parallel systems with prejudgment on the incompetence of current employees.
The answer to the question “Where do we begin?” is the aim of this conference and its sessions. The conference will note the importance of focusing on the 11,430 senior administrative posts in Egypt, who represent the essence and the base of the administrative structure. It will draw attention to their lack of training, and could find distinguished individuals among them.
Without developing and motivating those leaders, talks about the seven million employees and administrative reform becomes in vain. Without a strong management team capable of competing, it is impossible to achieve the growth Egypt targets.
The conference will answer the question “How did others do it?”, away from claims of weakness of potential and absence of funding, by presenting inspiring success stories, including how China has succeeded in reforming the business sector companies to achieve $90bn a year in revenues and taxes. It will show what Malaysia had done to attract 100 of the world’s largest companies to select it as a regional base. It will explain how the Ministry of Investment could succeed in repeating the experience.
Those stories will have great depth, by bringing in officials, experts, and executive managers who worked in those countries that achieved breakthroughs to improve their administrative apparatuses and drive industrialisation and growth rates.
Among the important aspects was how the presidential programme in United States works on the rehabilitation of 400 young people per year for leadership, and the way UAE improved the performance of its government staff. Another important experiment is the Malaysian method of managing national projects through a unit for executive management and follow-up, to oversee 200 projects only by 120 people. And also how China, Germany, and Malaysia were able to develop their industries and increase their revenues.
Finally, why would a public employee seek change and achievement in the absence of stimulus programmes? This, certainly, can be done by organising a creative thinking competition by the Ministry of Planning to study 400 ideas from public employees to encourage innovation and development and grant them awards for distinguished ideas.
I’m not overly optimistic, but the path to reform will not begin by re-inventing the wheel, which is the only path we know. We have to admit, for once, that semi-experts cannot build a better future; in light of the conditions of the country. We should realise that giving youth a chance to serve Egypt could be the country’s window to a new beginning, as they work for no charge and are not looking for jobs nor do they work under directives of certain policies. The Ministry of Planning’s cooperation with them is a good move; however, it requires a government trend and a strong presidential decision to enable those wishing for a better Egypt.