CAIRO - Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem said on Thursday his country will invest $18 billion in Egypt over the next five years to help shore up the economy, which has taken a beating since last year’s uprising. Doha “will inject investments in Egypt worth $18 billion over five years,” he said in remarks carried by the official Egyptian news agency MENA. Qatar will invest in electricity, natural gas and tourism mainly, he said after talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Last month, Qatar announced that it would provide Egypt with $2 billion in aid, with a first tranche of $500 million already being transferred.

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said the balance would be transferred in September, October and November.

The Egyptian central bank’s reserves have fallen sharply since Mubarak was forced out in February 2011. Reserves are down to $14.4 billion from $36 billion a year and a half ago.

The cash short fall raises fears about Egypt’s ability to maintain imports of basic commodities such as wheat and refined fuel and to honour its international financial commitments.

Egypt has has faced serious and growing economic challenges since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak last year, with key foreign currency earner tourism falling as well as incoming investment.

Last month, Cairo asked for a $4.8 billion loan last month from the International Monetary Fund.