An official delegation of seven Executive Directors (EDs) of the African Development Bank arrived in Cairo on Sunday, February 7 for an eight-day consultation mission to Egypt. The EDs sit on the Board at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan and provide oversight of the AfDB’s lending and operational activities.
The seven EDs 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 the visit was to enable them to have first-hand experience of the development impact of the AfDB’s interventions in Egypt, including assessing the needs and priorities of the Government. The EDs have been accompanied by an AfDB team from the North Africa region, led by its Director for North Africa, Jacob Kolster; and AfDB’s Resident Representative in Egypt, Leila Mokaddem.
The EDs’ program of visits is framed by the AfDB’s 2015-2019 Egypt Country Strategy Paper (CSP), which was approved by the Board in December 2015 with a subsequent US $500-million approval and disbursement to support macroeconomic policy reforms and the energy sector in Egypt. The CSP is based on two pillars: (i) development of infrastructure that will foster sustainable and inclusive growth; and (ii) strengthening governance by enhancing transparency, efficiency and fairness.
The visit started with a call upon Egyptian Prime Minister, Sherif Ismail, in the presence of the Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr. The Prime Minister extended his appreciation of AfDB’s partnership to support Government reforms to achieve private sector led inclusive and sustainable growth. Sherif Ismail also presented the main pillars of the economic and governance program that will be presented to Parliament in coming days, which are focused on fiscal consolidation, energy sector reform and strengthening the business environment. With this in mind, and noting the Government’s strong commitment to develop and implement sustainable reforms, he requested the AfDB’s continued support for the Government’s large infrastructure projects and resumption of discussions on the 2016 Policy Based Operation. The meeting provided an opportunity for the EDs to raise important issues on private sector participation as well as inclusive growth and implementation of the social safety net programs.
Following this engagement, the EDs held a meeting at the Ministry of International Cooperation with Sahar Nasr, alongside key Ministers and Deputy Ministers, including the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Housing and Environment. Discussions focused on key transformational projects in rural sanitation, land reclamation, wastewater and irrigation, as well as supporting efforts to boost regional integration.
Further meetings were followed with the Minister of Finance as well as with Mohab Mamish, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority. The EDs visited the Suez Canal area, and also the Suez Canal Economic Zone where they had the chance to meet with its Chairman, Ahmed Darwish. The delegation also visited two AfDB-financed projects – the Ain Sukhna power plant and the Egyptian Refining Company. The delegation was also scheduled to meet with direct beneficiaries of the rural income enhancement project in Luxor.
The US $500-million disbursement approved in December 2015 to support macroeconomic policy reforms and the energy sector brings the AfDB’s active portfolio in Egypt to US $2.24 billion (33 operations) with a disbursement rate of 61%. Total AfDB approvals for Egypt in 2015 amounted to US $694.6 million, consisting of three loans totalling US $682 million, and seven grants totaling US $12.6 million.
Since 1974, the Bank Group had financed some 100 operations valued at approximately US $6.3 billion. Bank-funded projects have been primarily in the areas of infrastructure, energy and the social sector (mainly loans to small and medium-sized enterprises).