Egypt faces an increasingly tough task raising cash for foreign debt repayments after external borrowing quadrupled over the past eight years to help fund a new capital, build infrastructure, buy weapons and support an overvalued currency.
Few of its grand projects are generating additional hard currency inflows, while foreign investors have added to its woes by snubbing Egypt and other emerging markets since the start of the Ukraine war and as global borrowing costs have climbed.
The government says it will meet repayments, but it has not delivered on long-promised structural changes to its economy and its bid to raise cash by selling state holdings has failed to offload any major assets for foreign currency for nearly a year.
"I think the biggest problem right now is that no one is seeing enough reform," said Monica Malik at Abu Dhabi-based bank ADCB. "Egypt is waiting for capital flows, and no one I speak to is ready to put that in again until they see the reform."
Investors have long pushed for a more flexible currency. But Egypt's pound has not moved against the dollar for three months despite a pledge to the International Monetary Fund to free it up under a $3 billion financial package agreed in December.