Amid rampant inflation, Egypt raises minimum wage by a mere $4 a week

Amid rampant inflation, Egypt raises minimum wage by a mere $4 a week
Egypt faces a host of economic issues - the ripple effects of the Ukraine war, rising inflation and an unstable currency - that could compound already high poverty rates.
2 min read
11 April, 2022
Egyptians are struggling to put food on the table for Ramadan, amidst rampant inflation [Fadel Dawod/Getty]

Egypt raised the minimum monthly wage in the public sector from 2,400 ($130) to 2,700 Egyptian pounds ($146), starting from 1 April, the Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced on Sunday.

The move came in response to the rising cost of living in Egypt, fuelled by the devaluation of the Egyptian currency.

On March 21, the Egyptian pound plunged by nearly 17 percent in value against the US dollar, reaching 18.22 pounds to the dollar. This was its sharpest devaluation since 2016 - when it lost nearly half its value against the dollar overnight.

The currency has remained roughly stable since: on Monday, April 11, one US dollar was worth 18.42 pounds.

In addition, consumer price inflation reached 12.1 percent in Egypt this March, up from 10 percent in February and compared to 4.8 percent a year ago, Egypt's official statistics agency announced on Sunday.

Consumer price inflation measures how prices paid by consumers to access a generic basket of goods increased over time.

In March, cereal and bread prices increased by 11 percent on average, meat and poultry by 7 percent, cheese and eggs by 5 percent, and fruits by 4.2 percent.

Inflation has been rampant since February when it stood at 10 percent - an almost three-year high, largely driven by mounting food prices.

The increase in prices of staple foods takes place against the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted global markets due to feared shortages particularly in cereals, cooking oil and fertilizers (of which Russia and Ukraine are top exporters). 

As the world's largest importer of wheat, Egypt relies on both countries for 85 percent of its wheat supplies, and 73 percent of its sunflower oil.

Economists expect inflation to get worse in the coming months due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and projected increases in fuel prices globally.

The World Bank has warned that a 30-percent rise in food prices could result in a 12-percent increase in poverty rates. Around one-third of Egypt's 103 million citizens already live below the poverty line.