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The Central Bank of Egypt: From the 1960s Until Today

August 31, 2023
Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Photo credit: Startup Scene
Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)
Photo credit: Startup Scene

This is the third article in the series ‘Egyconomy’ by Egyptian Streets, where Marina Makary explores current trends and debunks popular misconceptions surrounding the Egyptian economy.

Only few people know that the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) was not always the regulatory body responsible for the monetary and banking system as well as price stability in Egypt. Prior to the existence of the CBE, the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), the oldest Egyptian commercial bank, was responsible for the CBE’s duties.

Established in 1898 with a capital of EGP 1 million, NBE’s role and duties repeatedly developed and changed, depending on different economic and political phases in Egypt. In the 1950s, the NBE took on the central bank’s duties. However, after its nationalization in the 1960s, the NBE became a commercial bank.

After a law was issued and amended in 1960, the CBE was established in January 1961 to take over the right to issue Egyptian banknotes and change their designs, watermark, and colors, in addition to assuming central banking activities from the NBE.

That being said, the CBE’s printing house is one of the oldest printing houses in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Established in the 1960s, it began production in 1967 so the Egyptian banknote would not be printed abroad. While it began with one production line, and manual banknote finishing operations, printing production lines and mechanisms were later developed to standardize outputs. Additionally, the CBE even printed banknotes for a few Arab central banks.

From its commitment towards the Egyptian public to its responsibilities towards the Egyptian government, the CBE’s duties include developing Egypt’s monetary policy, regulating the foreign exchange market, supervising the Egyptian banking system, establishing and managing payment systems and services, promoting financial inclusion, among others.

There have been 16 CBE governors till today. Appointed in August, 2022, Hassan Abdalla is Egypt’s current CBE governor.

In the past few years, as a global economic crisis seemed like a looming threat, and the Egyptian economy began to suffer, Egyptians intensified debate and discussion of the economy of their country.

While the Egyptian economy is currently struggling with a shortage of foreign currency, repeated devaluations of the Egyptian pound, and a rising inflation rate, the CBE continues to exert efforts to control rising economic uncertainty.

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