The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is funding 11 projects in Egypt currently, including the establishment of the Egyptian Grand Museum, the Egyptian-Japanese Schools, and electricity projects in Upper Egypt; improving electricity transmission network, and the establishment of a solar power plant in Hurghada.
In addition, it finances the expansion of Borg El Arab Airport, the implementation of the first phase of Metro Line 4 in Cairo, and the Human Resources Development Project. This is along with two grant projects to introduce clean energy to the Egyptian-Japanese University of Science and Technology, and the outpatient clinics of Cairo University’s Abu Rish Hospital.
Yoshifumi Omura, chief representative of JICA Egypt Office, said that they granted $1.5bn to finance projects in different fields, including the establishment of the Cairo Opera House in 1988, Salam Bridge across the Suez Canal in 2011, and separate loans of $6.5bn.
JICA’s financing portfolio in the electricity and energy sector includes 17 projects estimated at $2.1bn, in addition to supporting different fields of generation, transmission, and energy efficiency, along with providing opportunities to build the capabilities of officials in Egyptian government agencies through training courses held in Japan.
He pointed out that there are five projects currently underway, namely the rehabilitation and improvement of the electricity sector, which was agreed on in October 2016 with investments of $400m. It includes the rehabilitation of power plants and improving the efficiency of operation. Under this project falls the first contract for the rehabilitation of North Cairo power plant which was signed in August 2017 and is expected to be completed soon.
Omura expected the contracts for two sub-projects to rehabilitate Al-Atf power plant and Sidi Kerir power plant to take place during 2019.
He added that many of the projects implemented by the agency in the field of renewable energy are part of the response to global environmental challenges.
JICA is also implementing a solar photovoltaic project, where it is financing the implementation of a new plant for this purpose in Hurghada. It is expected to witness the use of battery storage technology for the first time in Egypt. The project consultant has been selected and ready for mobilisation. The contractor will be selected this year.
Omura added that the third project funded by the JICA aims to improve the system of electricity distribution and costs about $220m. It also aims to raise the energy efficiency of the grid, targeting three distribution companies in North Cairo, North Delta, and Alexandria. The contractor will be selected in 2019.
He highlighted the role of JICA in financing a wind farm project in Gabal El Zeit with a capacity of 220MW and investments of $350m. It was opened in July 2018.
JICA has funded a project to develop the energy control system in Upper Egypt with investments of $100m to enhance energy efficiency and stabilise power supply.
Omura said the project includes the construction of a new control centre in Samalut, Minya, the rehabilitation of the Nag Hammadi control cetre, and linking over 100 substations. The project is expected to be completed this year.
JICA is considering supporting the reform of the electricity sector in Egypt by conducting a survey and sending a long-term Japanese expert to the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) for its keenness to develop human resources in this sector. Two technical cooperation programmes for capacity building and training were held last year.
“The negotiations with the Ministry of Transport on the financing of the first phase of Metro Line 4 have not stopped,” said Omura, adding that the contract has not been canceled, hoping to announce positive results for these negotiations in the next period.
JICA signed in 2012 an agreement for the first instalment of the loan to finance the project, up to ¥32.71bn and JICA stipulated in the funding contract for this project to be awarded to a Japanese company and only Taisei Corporation applied.
Omura said that JICA funded the Borg El Arab Airport development project in 2005 and completed the project in 2010 but the number of passengers became so large that another passenger terminal was required, which led to the signing of another agreement to expand the airport in 2016 but this time it was environmentally friendly through the use of tools and equipment in modern lighting and ACs to match global climate changes through the use of Japanese technology.
He referred to the signing of the loan agreement in 2016 and signing a contract with the general consultant for the project in July 2017. The contract between the Japanese consultant and the Egyptian Airports Company is expected to end in 2019.
The cost of establishing and developing the Borg El Arab Airport is estimated at about ¥5.7bn for the first phase and ¥18.2bn for the second phase.
As for the latest developments of the project of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is currently under construction, he said that the JICA funds the project through two loans of official development aid at a total of $800m, noting that the museum will become one of the main symbols of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation.
He added that the museum is expected to exhibit more than 50,000 artifacts, including all the treasures of King Tut and the golden mask, adding that the Japanese body also provides technical cooperation in relation to the management and operation of the museum and exhibitions in preparation for its opening.
He said that while the work of the museum is currently underway to be completed and completed in 2020 according to the Egyptian government, it is very important to take all necessary measures from Egypt to ensure the operation and sustainable management of the museum in accordance with international standards.
He added: JICA, in addition to what has been mentioned earlier, is supporting the preserving of artifacts, restoration, packaging, and transporting them to the Grand Egyptian Museum restoration department, adding that the cooperation in this project started eight years ago, where some 20,000 artifacts were moved successfully to the restoration department and 100 training courses were held in Egypt and abroad to develop the capabilities of the museum staff.
He stressed that the aim of this project is to be a central center for study and preservation of archaeological artifacts in suitable conditions. He added that the JICE supports the excavation of the second King Khufu boat in the pyramids area, which is expected to become one of the most important attractions in the museum.
JICA supports a project of technical cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture entitled “Improving market-oriented agriculture for small farmers” aimed at developing the capacities of small farmers in Minya and Assiut governorates and encouraging them to study market needs before agriculture. The project kicked off in 2014 to support the sustainable agricultural development strategy 2030.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation approved the launch of the project with launching a unit at the ministry for its activities, after the project ended in April 2019 in Minya and Assiut and will expand in Sohag as well.
As for the development of infrastructure, four barrages were constructed on the Bahr Yousef canal from Fayoum to Minya, in addition to construction or development of 34 floating pumps in Aswan and Luxor through a financial grant.
JICA supports the project of establishing the New Dairout Barrage through the provision of a soft loan at a cost of ¥5.854bn to improve the distribution and use of water in the main channels in this area, especially the Bahr Youssef and Ibrahimia.
A consortium of consulting companies led by Sanyo was contracted to provide consultancy services to oversee the construction of the new Dairout Barrages.
In another context, JICA regards the health sector as one of the most important sectors for achieving social and economic development in Egypt, where cooperation is being carried out on the projects of strengthening the health care system (comprehensive health coverage), human resources development, maternal and child health and cooperation with the private sector regarding medical technology and equipment, and human resources development, and cooperation to provide training opportunities for African countries.
Omura noted that JICA invited a team of senior officials from Egypt to visit Japan for a week in May, to learn about the Japanese health insurance system and the experiences gained from its implementation during the past 50 years. Participants are expected to gain knowledge, experience and a deep understanding of the practical application of the system and expected challenges.
The cooperation between JICA and Egypt at Cairo University Specialized Hospital for Children (Abu Al Rish) dates back to 1979, known as the International Year of the Child, as well as technical cooperation in nursing education, paediatrics, emergency care and school health care.
With the rapid increase in population, the Japanese government signed in 2016 an agreement with the Egyptian government to provide a grant of ¥1.56bn to contribute to the construction of the new outpatient clinics building in the hospital.
The new Outpatient Building will be built in the hospital and provide equipment for the department. This will improve the level of medical care for children by reducing the number of patients in the building, increasing the number of medical examinations that can be performed, and improving the medical education in the hospital.
Human resources development in the health sector is one of the components of the Egyptian-Japanese Education Partnership, whereby Egyptian doctors and nurses are sent for training in Japan to contribute to improving their skills and performance, as well as improving the quality of health care services in Egypt.
JICA believes that direct Japanese investment, especially in manufacturing, such as labor-intensive sectors, can create thousands of jobs in the local market, so an expert has been sent to the Japan office within the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones to benefit from his expertise and at the same time provide support for the technical schools in Egypt in cooperation with the Japanese manufacturing companies investing locally.
JICA has previously provided two loans in cooperation with the Social Fund for Development to support the development of small and micro enterprises, with a total value of about ¥9bn.
The projects aimed at creating opportunities and encouraging entrepreneurship as well as increasing income-generating and employment activities.
JICA is now interested in micro and small financing and supporting the development of small and micro enterprises through the development of the microfinance market.
As well as training opportunities in Japan to help build the capacity of government officials who are working to develop the private sector.
Omura said that JICA is also seeking an opportunity to formulate new development programs to improve the investment situation in agro-industries and agricultural investment.
JICA support began in 2015 in cooperation with the Financial Regulatory Authority, which contributed to the development of the National Micro Insurance Strategy, the sending of study missions, the provision of organizational support and the capacity building of regulators, training institutes and the market.
JICA has supported micro, small and medium enterprises by providing the first loan worth ¥5.1bn to the Social Fund for Development in 2002 and the second loan in 2008 totaling ¥3.7bn to finance small and micro enterprises through intermediary financial bodies with the aim of promoting increased employment opportunities and increase incomes of individuals in society.
It conducted a research survey on the demand for micro-insurance products in Egypt to provide the necessary information and support the micro-insurance market in Egypt.
Insurance for low-income people is an important element in achieving sustainable development. JICA supports the development of micro-insurance in Egypt with the aim of enhancing financial inclusion and reducing poverty in the segments of society facing financial challenges and protecting them from risks by creating a market for micro insurance that will provide micro insurance products designed to meet the needs and incomes of individuals, families and low-income businesses.
He pointed out that JICA’s contribution to the second phase of the industrial pollution control project has helped to improve awareness and enhance activities related to the industrial environment in Egypt, particularly in Alexandria and Greater Cairo, and to strengthen capacities in monitoring, follow-up and implementation.
The second phase of the Industrial Pollution Control Project was implemented between 2007 and 2015 as an initiative of cooperation between the EEAA with JICA, the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the European Union and the Finnish government, and the total cost of the project is at ¥14.9bn, of which JICA contributed ¥4.7bn.
On the plan to establish Egyptian-Japanese schools, he said that it is expected to establish 100 new schools in different governorates and develop 100 existing schools that apply the Japanese system, along with 12 experimental schools, to bring the total number to 112 schools.
The ministry has opened 35 schools already in September 2018 and will establish the Japanese schools and open them on several phases in the coming years, and JICA provides technical and financial support to the project, where it provided technical support thorough a team of Japanese experts working in the Ministry of Education to transfer knowledge and apply the so-called “Tokatsu activities” that helps develop students’ social, emotional, physical and academic skills to become responsible members of society.
On the other hand, the financial support provided to the Egyptian-Japanese schools project has been provided in the form of a soft loan worth ¥18.6bn ($168m) where the Egyptian government received the first tranche of the loan in March 2019.
In addition, training is being provided in Tokyo for teachers and principals in the framework of the Human Resources Development Project with the Ministry of Higher Education.
JICA supports the development of a model to introduce the Japanese technique of technical education so that technical secondary school can strengthen human resources to meet the needs of the labor market through the development of soft skills such as communication and complex technical skills of students, in cooperation with factories in Egypt. JICA focuses on the implementation of activities to improve the four competencies: productivity according to demand, safe behavior, classification, arrangement and cleaning, and time management.
JICA also cooperates with the Ministry of Social Solidarity to introduce the concept of “learning through play” through capacity development of 50 model nurseries in five target govenrorates in accordance with the international recognition of the importance of the first thousand days of children’s lives. The project aims at improving the level of development of children by raising the capacities of facilitators and nurseries as well as improving the nursing environment.
The JICA launched the project on the integration of persons with disabilities in March 2019 by improving access to information in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the National Library and Archives, and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, with the aim of providing people with a model that converts the contents of books and printed materials into digital form or what is called the Daisy digital information system.
He added that people with print disabilities can be identified as people with blindness, impaired vision, reading disabilities and physical disabilities that impede constipation or handling of books and printed materials.
He noted that JICA is currently cooperating with the Construction Authority for Potable Water and Wastewater (CAPW) to conduct a feasibility study on the project to develop the sewage treatment plant in Gabal El Asfar in order to increase the total capacity of the station to reach 4 million cubic meters per day to meet the growing demand for sewage treatment in Greater Cairo.
JICA is currently proposing to the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation the means to achieve the effective use of water resources in the irrigation sector and try to find a more comprehensive solutions to the problems experienced by the sector. The aim of this proposal is to achieve the efficiency of water use along three main irrigation canals, including Ibrahimia and Bahr Youssef in Upper Egypt and Al-Qassed channel in the middle of the Delta.
The project includes a number of physical components: rehabilitation of small irrigation facilities along the mentioned channels, introduction of modern irrigation methods such as drip irrigation or pivotal irrigation in some areas, as well as non-material components such as capacity building of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation in the field of water management efficiency, stressing that one of the advantages of the project is that it is a measure against the challenges of water scarcity.
On the other hand, Yoshivumi Omura hailed the role played by the Egyptian government to implement the economic reform program. where the difficult stages of the IMF’s massive transformation have been crossed.
He stressed that the biggest challenge now in his opinion is to create greater employment opportunities for young people, especially as they represent the largest base of population distribution, and this requires more support, training and education, which was discussed in the meeting between President Sisi and JICA officials.
He referred to the achievements of the current administration in Egypt, which is proceeding at a steady pace according to his description, praising the model of developing the electricity sector and the shift from deficit to reach surplus of 30%.
In addition to the recent achievement of linking the Sinai and praising the opening of four tunnels at once, in addition to the projects in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.
He stressed that the private sector, especially the Chinese, is doing great investment in the development of the Suez Canal region. He pointed out that Egypt is now in third place in the production of the fiber glass and exporting it abroad.
He pointed out to Japanese companies’ interest in working on the canal projects, pointing out that Saraya Japanese company in cooperation with Egypt has started to implement a project to extract and produce natural oils, produce natural cosmetics and sterilize other chemical products.
Japanese Saraya announced last year the establishment a project to manufacture natural cosmetics and sterilisation of other chemical products on an area of 14,000 sqm in the Suez Canal Economic Zone at the southern gate of the Suez Canal in Ain Sukhna.
The project will be built within the framework of the Special Economic Zones System in the SCZone and the estimated investment cost of the project is $50m.
Moreover, discussions between Egyptian and Japanese companies are underway to enter into oil production projects.