Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, and Dr. Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, commended the African Development Bank for the strategic partnership behind Egypt’s economic transformation since the 2011 revolution. The two Ministers spoke at a joint press conference with the Bank at the signing of a grant agreement and the official release of the Bank’s 2018 Country Results Brief on Egypt.
Sahar Nasr and Malinne Blomberg, Country Manager for the Bank’s Egypt country office, signed a grant agreement for EUR 4 million from the multi-donor trust fund for countries in transition for the “Tanmia Wa Tatweer – Egypt’s Entrepreneurship Development Project”. The signing took place in the presence of H. E. Ambassador Tomas Christensen, from Denmark, one of the major donors of the transition fund.
The “Tanmia Wa Tatweer – Egypt’s Entrepreneurship Development Project” aims to support entrepreneurs, particularly youth and women, to establish, manage and operate successful innovation-driven enterprises in agribusiness; clean, green and alternative energy; and creative industries in handicrafts and the performing arts.
The grant will be implemented under the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and targets about 480 start-ups and early growth businesses (of which 50% will be female-owned), giving geographic priority to the governorates of Qena, New Valley and Upper Egypt. The entrepreneurs will benefit from grants of up to EUR 2,550 ($3,000) per business to assist early development needs such as prototyping and product testing, and grants for seed funding of approximately 15% of the startup cost up to a maximum of EUR 51,000 ($60,000) per start-up.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Nasr said that the strategic partnership with the Bank came at the right time as it was “within the framework of the implementation of the initiatives announced by President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi during the Africa 2019 Forum for Entrepreneurship and coincides with Egypt’s leadership of the African Union”.
In his remarks, Dr. Khalid Abdel Ghaffar underlined that “this grant is evidence of cooperation with a key partner in Africa, the African Development Bank, as it is specific to Egypt’s national strategy in supporting youth and women, especially in the Upper Egypt and New Valley governorates”.
During the ceremony, Malinne Blomberg presented the ‘Country Results Brief on Egypt’, which examines the country’s economic development and shows the Bank’s contribution to its High 5 priorities, namely, Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa.
The Bank has implemented programmes and projects that have contributed to boosting the Egyptian economy. The Economic Governance and Energy Support Programme, for example, in which the Bank has invested $1.5 billion, has helped to improve the business environment including investment law, industrial licensing and micro-finance sectors. In the country’s energy sector, the Bank-funded projects have added 4,000 MW to the grid, which is about 10% of the total and has helped to meet the demand of around 4.5 million new customers. In agriculture, the Bank’s contributions have enhanced productivity, generated over 82,000 jobs, improved incomes of rural communities, and addressed food security challenges. The Bank’s portfolio includes projects focusing on water resources management, including improving drainage capacity around the Nile river and delta that will increase crop yield by around 20% for 625,000 farmers in five regions along the Nile.
In discussing the Country Results Brief, Malinne Blomberg, said, “Egypt possesses the basic factors needed to become an industrial power – ample natural resources, energy availability and a vast pool of young workers. We will continue working with our partners to catalyse more private sector investments to transform the Egyptian economy”.
She added, “One of the main objectives of the Bank is to connect Egypt to regional markets and regional value chains. Egypt joined the continental free trade agreement (AfCFTA) with 43 other African countries, which once ratified will allow it to gain access to a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. Once implemented, the AfCFTA can boost intra-African trade by 50% within the next few years, benefiting Egyptian producers, consumers and traders”.
Since 1974 when the Bank started financing operations in Egypt, it has financed over 125 projects with $6.5 billion: in infrastructure development (transport, power, water supply and sanitation), agriculture, communications, finance, industry and social sectors, as well as economic and institutional reforms and capacity building. Today, the Bank has a portfolio of 30 operations in Egypt, valued at $3.1 billion.