Leïla Mokaddem, AfDB Resident Representative in Egypt, on the Bank’s priorities for the country in 2015

23/03/2015
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Named African Development Bank Resident Representative for Egypt in January 2014, Leïla Mokaddem heads the Bank’s country office in Cairo.  In this role, she oversees the ensemble of Bank activities in Egypt, one of the founding members of the institution.

Since 1974 the Bank has financed 100 operations worth US $6.9 billion. Currently, the Bank’s ongoing operations in Egypt consist of 29 projects: loans (79% in the power sector) and grants; with a total commitment value of US $1.9 billion, of which 63.6% has been disbursed as of March 2015. The Bank is committed to lend up to US $450 million in 2015 with a focus on transport (the Sharm el Sheikh airport), energy (both conventional and renewable), agriculture, and water and wastewater treatment.  The AfDB Communications and External Communications Department sat down with her during the recent Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm el Sheikh.

What are the priorities for 2015, and what are the specific needs of the country that the Bank needs to address?

The Bank’s interim Country Strategy Paper (CSP), which is valid until June 2015, is focused on providing support to the Government in two key areas: infrastructure in support of economic recovery and green growth; and governance in support of inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

Following the successful outcomes emanating from the March Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC), with more than US $80 billion pledges from governments and the private sector, Egypt is at a crossroads and is experiencing a major transformational path.  The Bank will be taking stock of the key priorities of the Government as highlighted in Egypt’s Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt 2030 and will realign its targeted assistance that will be elaborated in the Bank’s new CSP covering the period 2015-2019. It will target supporting: (a) the energy mix vision of GoE and promoting renewable energy through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs); (b) social inclusion through conditional cash transfer programs and other social safety nets for the poor and vulnerable groups; (c) skills development and job creation to take stock of the contracts signed with the private sector during the EEDC and identify the skills profile needed disaggregated by sub-sectors.

The Bank will enhance and strongly pursue a programmatic and holistic approach to help address some of the key challenges facing the Government.  It will focus on combining high-level policy dialogue, knowledge work, and technical assistance with project loans, including assisting key Ministries on PPP structuring. It will assist in carrying out economic sector work on skills development with a focus on identifying the key skill mix needed to implement some of the key reforms and finance some strategic skills and vocational training based on models from other countries either through loans or grants. The Bank will work with other International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to provide co-financing as well as act as an arranger. The Bank will also assist the Government in its programs for regional integration and South-South cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa and Nile Basin countries in areas of regional transport, energy, and trade and investments.

Name three signature Bank projects in the country.

The Bank’s ongoing and planned interventions are very much aligned with the current Government priorities on job creation and supporting renewable energy both in terms of generation and for use in irrigation. The ongoing project – Rural Income and Economic Enhancement Project (RIEEP) – with an investment of US $70 million is under implementation to support smallholder farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs. To date the project has extended 41,000 sub-loans, of which 30% are to women, and has created approximately 80,000 direct jobs.

The Bank will start implementation of a grant (US $1.2 million) to assess using renewable energy in pumping irrigation water for sustainable agriculture and to combat climate change. The feasibility study and pilot will contribute to the design of the National Reclamation Program and the preparation of investment project for the national land reclamation project.

The Bank is also programing support in 2015 from the private sector window as well as concessional lending from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) to develop the 200 MW windfarm on the Gulf of Suez using a PPP model. The total investment from the Bank will be for US $98 million and US $45 million from the CTF.