A model of a planned new capital for Egypt is on display at an economic conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
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In a few short years, if everything goes according to plan, Egypt will have new megaprojects, special investment zones and power plants fueled by the largest offshore gas field in the Mediterranean. But in the more immediate future, experts say the government needs to boost investment and bring in foreign capital to avoid a looming cash crunch. Billions of dollars in debt repayments are coming due, foreign currency reserves fell to a six-month low in August, and Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian said this week that foreign direct investment is not growing as fast as hoped. Experts say if the government doesn't act quickly, the investment needed to realize its ambitious plans may not materialize in time.The government has forecast 5 percent growth this year if investment targets are met, approaching the 7 percent Egypt averaged in the years leading up to the 2011 uprising.Late last month Italy's ENI announced the discovery of a "supergiant" offshore gas field that could eliminate long-running energy shortfalls and possibly allow Egypt to export when it comes online in around five years.The latest Central Bank figures do not cover the post-conference period but show improvement, with $5.7 billion in the three quarters ending in March, compared to just $4.1 billion the entire previous fiscal year.
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