The World Bank’s (WB) Vice President for Infrastructure, Makhtar Diop, met with Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, last Thursday to discuss boosting the joint cooperation in the fields of infrastructure in Egypt and Africa, in light of Egypt’s presidency of the African Union in 2019.
A source from the WB’s board told Daily News Egypt, on condition of anonymity, that the bank trusts the Egyptian economic programme outlook, which was obvious through the bank’s latest financial package of $1bn for the second phase of the Egyptian economic programme.
The WB’s continuous support for Egypt is an important positive message for the international business community and investors, affirmed the source, adding that the WB is only keen on supporting the macroeconomic stable countries with a clear national reform agenda.
The WB and Egypt exert many efforts in supporting the developmental economic fields in Africa through integrated regional initiatives with some of the African countries.
Nasr said that she looks forward to boosting the joint relations with the WB in infrastructural projects, in light of Egypt’s implementation of a comprehensive sustainable development process in the economic and social sides in many fields, such as financing renewable energy and transportation projects.
For his part, Diop said that Egypt successfully hosted the 2018 Africa Business Forum from 8 to 9 December, under the patronage of President Abel Fattah Al-Sisi in Sharm El-Sheikh, noting that the WB is keen on supporting Egypt’s efforts to attract new foreign investments, in addition to supporting infrastructural projects in the transportation and agricultural sectors.
The transportation sector is vital for connecting lagging regions to the growth centres, as inclusive growth is key for economic development, said the WB in a recent report titled ‘Egypt: Enabling Private Investment and Commercial Financing in Infrastructure’.
By developing a more integrated transportation system, Egypt can leverage its geostrategic position to become a regional trade and logistics hub, said the report, adding that investing in the transportation sector will increase connectivity, therefore cater to the urban demands of the growing population, will provide a better market access to the underserved, particularly in lagging regions, as well as provide the necessary routes for efficiently sourcing inputs and services, linking local and international markets.
The report mentioned that there are five key pillars to boost the country’s transportation system which are airports, seaports, railways, inland waterways, and urban transport.
For airports, the country has to improve the coordination, as well as assess and prioritise options for accommodating the future capacity and levels of service requirements, especially in cargo. While in ports, the National Ports Development Strategy should be finalised to improve the efficiency and connectivity to inland dry ports and the production/consumption centres, and to facilitate transparent concessions.
Additionally, the report mentioned that the authorities have to develop freight business through private sector investment/PPPs, undertake key reforms of the Egyptian national railways to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework, and address the competition with road transport.
The report added that the country has to strengthen the collaboration between the relevant ministries, expand the capacity of the River Transport Authority, as well as address infrastructural bottlenecks to efficient transport on key Nile waterway corridors.
Moreover, the authorities have to develop a comprehensive mass transit and urban transport strategy, in addition to streamlining the institutional structure.