President Kaberuka on Official Visit to Egypt
President Donald Kaberuka is currently on an official visit to Egypt. The visit, which runs from November 25-29, will enable the president to discuss a wide range of issues including on-going and future cooperation ties between the Bank and Egypt, the second largest regional shareholder of the Bank. The President has already signed two AfDB loans and grant agreements with the government of Egypt. Accompanied by Bank experts in key areas, President Kaberuka will also visit some major Bank-financed projects.
President Kaberuka held discussions with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, the Governor of the Egyptian Central Bank, Farouk El-Okdah, the Ministers of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, Amin Abaza, Electricity and Energy, Ahmed ElMaghraby, Investment, Mahmoud MoheilDin, International Cooperation, Mrs. Fayza AbuElNaga, Transport, Mohamed Mansour, Education, Yousri ElGamal, as well as Health and Population, Hatem ElGabaly. Both parties agreed that infrastructure was very important in the development process. "Africa has unexploited resources which by far exceed the continent’s needs," the Minister of Agriculture said. "How many villages are in dire circumstances while other regions enjoying abundant harvests are incapable of helping them due to the lack of roads? In other places, large quantities of tomatoes are lost because they cannot be transformed," he added. President Kaberuka and Egyptian officials also discussed issues of cooperation, government priorities and strategies in addition to challenges and constraints, as well as regional integration (power grids interconnection) and South-South cooperation. The President commended the government of Egypt for its successful reforms aimed at improving the business environment.
Electricity: Major priority
The President reminded the Bank’s Egyptian partners of its determination to support the development of the energy sector. To gain a better understanding of Egyptian expertise in this domain, the president on Sunday visited two project sites: the Cairo North ultramodern control station and the Cairo North power generation station. He was received at the station by Mr. Samir EzElArab, President of the Egyptian Electricity Corporation, who guided him through the ultramodern facility. In the company of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Electricity Production Company, Ahmed Imam, the president also visited the Cairo North power generation facility. The on-site visits were followed by working sessions with the Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Energy. Discussions focused on the country’s current electricity generating capacity, overall energy requirements, and future plans about the sector. President Kaberuka appreciated the accomplishments of the government in this sector, which translate into high levels of access to electricity in the country (99% population coverage) and impressive technical know-how. The President and the Minister agreed to work towards continuous cooperation between the AfDB and Egypt.
Highlighting the areas of priority in AfDB-Egypt cooperation, the Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, Mrs. Fayza Abueinaga, underscored that electricity, like railways, as well as small and medium scale enterprises, remained a priority and job-creation area (65% of Egypt’s population is less than 35 years old, he said, noting that 750,000 new graduates enter the job market each year). The minister expressed satisfaction with the idea of organizing a work shop in early 2007 in order to share information on public sector financing possibilities that the Bank offers, as well as those that exist in other multilateral development institutions.
On Monday, the president signed the Bank’s largest-ever loan agreement of US$ 500 million to support the Financial Sector Reform Program (FSRP) in Egypt. The program aims at improving the efficiency of financial intermediation and risk management in the economy with a view to promoting the security and solidarity of the banking and non financial sectors through complete structural and financial reforms which will help accelerate economic growth and development. The second loan agreement of US$ 87.15 million will finance a micro-finance and small enterprises support project in Egypt through resource management by the Social Development Fund. The resources are expected to benefit more than 18,000 small enterprises and 60,000 micro-enterprises, by managing the creation of more than 100,000 jobs over a five-year period. These agreements were signed by Mrs. Fayza AbuElNaga for Egypt, while President Kaberuka signed for the Bank.
Shortly before signing the loan agreement, President Kaberuka reviewed ongoing reforms in the financial sector with the Governor of the Egyptian Central Bank who allowed cameras and photographers onto the Central Bank’s premises for the first time. The Governor advised President Kaberuka that ongoing financial reforms which are receiving the support of the international community were irreversible and were already bearing fruits. He also presented the government’s finance sector restructuring and reform program to Mr. Kaberuka.