Board Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) held four days of talks in Egypt this week, learning first-hand how the Bank can contribute further to the country’s economic progress.
The EBRD is already a major investor in Egypt, where it has financed projects worth €2 billion across the economic spectrum since 2012.
It is currently drawing up its first Country Strategy for Egypt, a document that sets out priorities for EBRD engagement over the coming four years.
The strategy is developed in close cooperation with the Egyptian authorities and other important stakeholders in the Egyptian economy to ensure that the Bank’s activities are consistent with the needs of the country and its people.
The Directors, who represent the EBRD’s shareholders, had meetings with senior government officials including Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and the Minister of International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, who is also the EBRD Governor for Egypt.
They also met Deputy Central Bank Governor Lobna Helal. The Directors discussed energy issues with Gaber Desouki, Chairman of the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company, Mohamed El Sobki, Chairman of the New and Renewable Energy Authority and Sabah Mashari, First Deputy Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy.
At the finance ministry they held talks with Yasser Sobhy, Deputy Minister for Macro-Fiscal Policy and Khalid Nofal, Deputy Minister for Technical and Administrative Reform.
In addition, the Directors held talks with senior officials from the Egyptian National Railways, including Khalid Farouk, Vice Chairman for Freight.
The Egyptian officials outlined policies being put in place to address challenges in the Egyptian economy, including the budget deficit, currency pressures and unemployment, which remains high despite recently edging lower.
They underscored their commitment to much-needed reforms, explaining how steps would also be taken to protect the most vulnerable members of society from the impact of these reforms and referred to current discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with which the government expects to conclude an agreement in the coming months.
Through its projects and its support for policy reform, the EBRD is seeking to strengthen the resilience of the Egyptian economy. The Bank shares the view of the authorities that the successful conclusion of an IMF programme could be expected to boost investor confidence and improve the functioning of the foreign exchange markets, important steps that will help deliver economic stability.
The Directors’ discussions also included talks with members of parliament, representatives from the diplomatic and development finance communities and from civil society, and with existing and potential commercial partners, with a focus on some small and medium-sized enterprises that have received EBRD support.
In addition, the business meetings featured a round-table discussion with EBRD clients who had benefited from the EBRD’s Women in Business programme that provides advice for women entrepreneurs, helping to integrate women into the fabric of the Egyptian economy.
Since the start of its operations in 2012, the Bank has financed nearly 40 projects across key sectors including power and renewable energy, agribusiness and manufacturing, transport and municipal services, as well as cross-cutting areas such as energy efficiency.
The EBRD Directors taking part in the 24-27 October visit to Cairo were:
- Philip Barresi, representing Australia, Egypt, Korea, New Zealand
- Scott Allen, representing United States of America
- Dragos Andrei, representing Romania, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic
- Pablo Gasos, representing Spain and Mexico
- Laszlo Havas, representing Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Croatia, Georgia
- Yosuke Kawakami, representing Japan
- Klaus Stein, representing Germany
- Andris Vilks, representing the European Investment Bank
- Frans Weekers, representing the Netherlands, Mongolia, FYR Macedonia, Armenia and China
- Claire Wren, representing the United Kingdom.
The Board Directors were accompanied by Hildegard Gacek, EBRD Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, and Philip ter Woort, who heads the EBRD’s operations in Egypt.