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EBRD supports the digital transformation of the Suez Canal Economic Zone

By Nibal Zgheib

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  • First phase of the EBRD’s technical support to the Suez Canal Economic Zone successfully completed
  • One-stop-shop digital facilities will provide the speed and efficiency required for a world-class investment hub
  • The Bank helped the SCZone to design and establish an industrial park at Qantara West for small and medium-sized enterprises

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the efforts of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) to develop an efficient, competitive and eco-friendly business environment that is attractive to international investors.

An attractive business hub will position the SCZone as a leading space for global trade, industries and services and will generate job opportunities for Egyptians.

Aiming to streamline administrative formalities and to fast-track the management of investor services, the SCZone authority has established a ‘one-stop shop’ for investors that is managed by its Investor Services Department.

The EBRD has been providing targeted technical support to the Suez Canal Economic Zone to deliver this autonomous, digital and interactive one-stop shop. The digital facilities will provide the speed and efficiency required to deliver investor services effectively, including licences and permits.

The first phase of the EBRD’s technical support has been successfully completed, with recommendations for the re-engineering and improvement of the first set of priority services. This will pave the way for the restructuring and full digitalisation of the remaining investor services.

The second phase will be launched during the first half of 2022. It will focus on the creation of a fully fledged digital and interactive one-stop service, enabling the SCZone administration to comprehensively manage current services and integrate new ones into the regulatory framework and digital platform.

In addition, the Bank has made recommendations on modernising the regulatory framework and on bringing best practices from other well-established economic zones around the world. It has also assisted the SCZone with the design and establishment of an industrial park for small and medium-sized enterprises at Qantara West, next to the Suez Canal and surrounding facilities.

“The EBRD is delighted that our fruitful partnership with the SCZone is contributing to the  successful delivery of an autonomous, digital and interactive one-stop shop. The SCZone’s project is a good example of how we can speed up the rollout of digital services,” said EBRD Vice President, Policy and Partnerships, Mark Bowman.

Yehia Zaki, Chairman of the SCZone, said: “The launching of the second phase of cooperation with the EBRD aims to implement the improvement programme and raise the level of performance of the one-stop shop for the SCZone. The cooperation will serve to regulate the services and special procedures provided to investors. It will provide technical support to improve the level of services by raising the skills and efficiency of staff at the one-stop shop, in addition to working on automating all services to simplify procedures and documents.”

The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated digital transformation across the EBRD regions, including the development of digital tools and sharing of knowledge about regulatory sandboxes. It has also accelerated the development of digital government services for firms to improve the ease and transparency of doing business.

At the end of 2021, the EBRD adopted its digital approach to advancing transition, which sets out a comprehensive framework for how the Bank will use its three instruments – investment, policy engagement and advisory services – to support digital transition in the economies where it operates.

Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD. Since the start of the Bank’s operations there in 2012, the EBRD has invested close to €8.6 billion in 144 projects in the country.

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