AfDB Executive Directors end consultation mission to Egypt with a courtesy visit to the country’s President

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An official delegation of seven Executive Directors (EDs) of the African Development Bank concluded on February 14 their eight-day consultation mission to Egypt. The EDs are members of the Bank’s Board of Directors and represent the constituencies of Algeria, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Gambia, Ghana, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland and Turkey. The main purpose of their visit was to learn first-hand the current development situation and future outlook of Egypt, and to gain a better understanding of the AfDB’s support program in Egypt, its developmental impact in particular.

The mission takes place within the context of the recent successful Parliamentary elections, the informed debate on the development challenges faced by the country in the Egyptian Parliament on February 13, 2016, as well as the recent conclusion of a robust country strategy led by the Ministry of the International Cooperation with the AfDB that would guide the Bank’s cooperation with Egypt over the next few years. This was followed by a US $500-million approval and disbursement by AfDB to support macroeconomic policy reforms and reforms in the energy sector.

The visit began on February 7 with a courtesy call on the Prime Minister, Sherif Ismail, and ended with a visit paid to Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, in the presence of the Minister of International Cooperation, Sahr Nasr. The delegation also met with Ministers and Deputy Ministers from the Ministries of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Agriculture and Land Reclamation, Irrigation and Water Resources, Housing, Industry, Foreign Trade, and SMEs, Social Solidarity and Finance. They also visited the Suez Canal and the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and made a site visit to the Egyptian Oil Refinery Company. The Executive Directors were especially inspired by the success of the Suez Canal expansion project that was completed in one year’s time, and were fascinated by its transformative characteristics.

Meetings were also held with various stakeholders, including representatives from the private sector, civil society organizations, academia, and bilateral and multilateral partners based in Egypt. The delegation also visited Luxor to discuss development issues in Upper Egypt with the Governor of Luxor and his team, and met project beneficiaries of microfinance projects financed jointly by the AfDB and the Social Fund for Development.

“Listening to the demands of the people in the Governorates and talking to beneficiaries of microfinance projects is one of the crucial factors in designing successful social programs,” Sahr Nasr said during the field visits. “Only then, one would be able to cater the needs of the most marginalized sections of society – underserved Governorates, women and youth.”

The delegation was briefed on the Government’s Sustainable Development Strategy: 2030 Vision (SDS). The EDs were very supportive of the reform programs that underpin the SDS, which aims to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. The underlying issues that these reforms are meant to address also came through from the Bank delegation’s interaction with the various people they met during the visit.

Upon conclusion of the visit, the Executive Directors made the following observations:

  • They are encouraged by the recent positive development towards a well-functioning Parliament.
  • They are also encouraged by the cautious optimistic macroeconomic outlook with concerns on fiscal deficit, foreign currency limitations, and pace of expediting private sector reforms, which the Government is committed to address.
  • Sustaining the reform programs in the short, medium and long-term is of critical importance to Egypt at this juncture of its history. They fully agree that infrastructure development, energy in particular, is important to foster sustainable inclusive growth. AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina has been championing a New Deal on Energy for Africa and it would potentially offer more collaboration opportunities in the energy sector in Egypt.
  • While water and sanitation is undoubtedly one of the key elements to help achieve social inclusion, and is strongly supported by the Egyptian leadership, the delegation is also very supportive of the approach taken to incorporate social inclusion considerations into other reforms and their implementation.
  • They agreed with several stakeholders who highlighted that increasing spending on public service delivery and improving delivery efficiency and effectiveness as well as better targeting of social programs should yield important dividends.
  • They strongly support the leadership’s commitment to create jobs for youths, jobs that match the demand of the market, and are of higher value-added. In this regard, it is critical that the enabling conditions are put in place in order for the Egyptian private sector to accelerate its growth. AfDB is also actively pursuing new approaches in tackling this urgent question of job creation for youth.
  • They commend the Government’s leadership in forging closer regional trade and investment ties with Sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, Egypt’s first Africa Forum to be held February 20-21 in Sharm el Sheikh will be another key milestone of such leadership. 
  • Based on the field visit to Upper Egypt, they are struck by the importance in tackling spatial inclusion, which is an integral part of social inclusion.
  • They support the Minister of International Cooperation’s interests and leadership in expediting implementation and monitoring of project results to help ensure development impact on the ground is achieved, particularly as it pertains to the poor and the vulnerable.

“Egypt is an important shareholder of AfDB and an important partner. Given the need for sustained efforts to achieve sustainable inclusive growth in Egypt, AfDB is committed to step up its support to Egypt as reforms are designed and implemented in the coming years”, said Hau Sing Tse, Executive Director for Canada, China, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait and Turkey, and the spokesperson of the delegation.

In closing, the delegation expressed its gratitude to the Egyptian Government for hosting the visit and for its warm hospitality. They also thanked the Minister of International Cooperation for developing an excellent program that permitted the delegation to meet its objectives. Finally, the EDs expressed their appreciation to Samy Zaghloul, Executive Director for Egypt and Djibouti, as well as that of the Senior Bank officials, Jacob Kolster, Director of North Africa, and Leila Mokaddem, the Bank’s Resident Representative in Egypt, for their contributions to the successful mission.