The Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies (ECPPS), an Atlas Network partner based in Cairo, Egypt, has seen success in its efforts to promote free markets and private property rights in Egypt. With initiatives such as the digitization of land records for ease of access, the development of a mobile app to assist entrepreneurs in navigating financial and legal obstacles to business creation, and discussions held with Egyptian members of parliament concerning property rights, ECPPS has made a significant impact on the development of free markets in Egypt. By making strides to reduce the bureaucratic barriers to entry into the land market and pushing to implement land registration reforms in the Egyptian parliament, ECPPS continues to promote the ideas of economic liberty in Egypt.
“Egypt has many challenges that are standing in the way of achieving the goals of freedom, such as corruption, bureaucracy, a lack of a firm implementation of laws, and of course economic difficulties,” said Ahmed Abou el Dahab, head of advocacy and outreach at ECPPS. “Since we do have a clear vision on the nature of problems that need to be tackled, we are able to separate each one of these problems and work on them separately to produce sufficient studies and come up with policies that would help solve these problems.”
One of ECPPS’ major projects is the digitization and electronic registration of public land records to improve accessibility and ease of sale for private individuals. According to the policy paper “Electronic Registration for Land Title and Properties in Egypt”, published by ECPPS in October 2017, finds that approximately 90 percent of privately owned land in Egypt is unregistered, since the bureaucratic red tape involved in registering land constitutes a major obstacle. A typical land registration in Egypt can take between five and fourteen years and pass through dozens of government agencies before it is approved and recorded. This not only makes sale and inheritance of land considerably more complicated, but it also makes connection to water and electricity – a matter of importance in a developing economy – more difficult.
Since the publication of the policy report concerning electronic land registration, ECPPS has been working with numerous Egyptian members of parliament (MPs) to enact reforms. MP Mohamed Khalifa, member of the Housing and Urban Communities Committee, expressed considerable interest in the reform efforts, stating the possibility of a hosting a workshop to be held in the Egyptian parliament to continue the discussion of reform with fellow MPs.
“Our approach to deal with this was to eliminate the obstacles that prevent owners from formally registering their lands by creating a digital system that eliminates the costly and lengthy process of land registration,” said Abou el Dahab. “This would create an efficient and quick system that would help all landowners in Egypt by enabling the owner to fully exercise their right over their property, and allow them to benefit from services that can be provided to them.”
Along with advocating for land registration reform in the government, ECPPS has developed the “Mashro3y” app to help entrepreneurs by providing financial and legal advice concerning proper documentation and registration for their businesses. The app launched in October 2017.