The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is discussing its new country programme with the Egyptian government, announced the KOICA’s Country Director, Oh Yeon Keum.
According to Oh, technical and vocational education and training, women empowerment, and government efficiency are the programme’s three pillars.
KOICA is an international development cooperation agency, aiming to achieve global social values through mutual exchanges between Korea and developing countries.
“We are starting a new phase of our cooperation with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation as our main counterpart in the Egyptian government,” added Oh.
KOICA is also developing coordination with the international development institutions, especially the United Nations (UN) agencies to explore the opportunities for joint collaboration over future projects, mentioned Oh.
Daily News Egypt met with Oh to learn more about KOICA’s future activities in the Egyptian market and to discuss the updates of its current projects.
How many projects is KOICA implementing in the local market?
Initially, KOICA inaugurated its office in Egypt in1998, yet the agency’s activities began earlier in 199l as a governmental agency for grants and technical cooperation for bilateral development agenda, working under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea.
In 1991, KOICA began operation through dispatching volunteers and experts, and then developed additional types of activities, including technical advisory and projects that supported the vocational education and training and infrastructure development.
With more than 20-year experience in Egypt, we have implemented 21 projects with estimated cost of $61.6m until 2018. Many of our engagements were to support technical and vocational education, training, and infrastructure development such as electricity distribution.
Also, around 1,500 Egyptian government officials have joined KOICA’s various types of fellowship programmes for enhancing their capacities in various fields, and 750 Korean volunteers served in many parts of Egypt to work with local communities, not only in Cairo and Alexandria, but also in Luxor, Aswan, and Delta areas.
Our operation is based on the partnership with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation.
Do you have direct engagement with the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Egypt?
KOICA, as a specialised organisation for development agenda, has a willingness to cooperate with NGOs in Egypt. We have 44 local offices across the world, where KOICA is working closely with NGOs for development needs. Unfortunately, we have not yet established a partnership in Egypt, but we hope to establish a working partnership in the future.
Can you please elaborate on KOICA’s current country programme?
Though our country programme, we’ve been traditionally focusing on technical and vocational training and education. Considering the agenda and challenges of the Egyptian society, the previous cooperation in this field was appropriate so we want to continue.
Given the Egyptian government’s plans for the industry development and youth employment, KOICA thinks that supporting the agenda of technical and vocational education is crucial and coincides with the Egyptian government’s priorities.
We believe that better education will create better opportunities for the youth, and will accelerate achieving the industrial development. KOICA hopes that our support can narrow the gap between the education and the market needs. The programme will create a new phase of cooperation with Egypt. We have recently updated the programme.
What are the key pillars of your programme?
There are three main pillars that drive our country programme in Egypt, which are vocational training, women empowerment, and government efficiency.
We will continue our long-standing efforts in the field of the technical and vocational education and training. The ongoing project in Beni Suef Technological University shows this continuation of our role.
Secondly, we fully recognise that the role of women is increasing significantly in terms of their contribution to the national development, but there are some challenges that hinders their performance.
There are records that show some gaps between males and females in their contribution to the economy and employment. KOICA wants those gaps to be narrowed, so that women can participate more actively in the social and economic development process.
Lastly, we focus on enhancing the government efficiency and empowering the government officials. KOICA’s scholarship and fellowship programmes to Korea for the government officials is one of the means for this. We also support e-government by implementing a new project with the Egyptian Patent Office (EGPO).
Do you have more projects in 2019?
We are now preparing to start a new project with the EGPO under the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, to be launched soon this year.
Can you please tell us more about this project?
This project will provide technical assistance as well as some devices and equipment to enhance the EGPO’s system of patent administration.
Generally, managing the intellection property right is very important for the industrial development. Our aim is to establish an electronic system to manage the patent information by the Egyptian Patent Office. Through this, Egyptian inventors and the public can have better access to patent information so their innovation efforts and rights are better supported and protected.
At the same time, officials handling patent information will improve their services for the public to boost innovation and contribute to Egypt’s economic development. We hope this can be a good sample for implementing the e-government in Egypt as well.
What is the total budget of the project?
It’s a pilot project of $2.9m.
Do you prepare for high-level visits from KOICA’a headquarters to Egypt soon?
We’re open to the idea. Since we are a governmental agency, we will announce in due time when defined. We will make continuous effort to enhance our partnership.
Earlier in September, KOICA in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and two Egyptian NGOs, organised the KOICA Day for Taekwondo and Korean Culture, do you aim to repeat this experience?
It was a very successful first of a kind event, we hope to hold it on a regular basis, and repeat it again with better format in 2020.
The event hosted a number of children from vulnerable groups from Sudan, Yemen, and Ethiopia as well as Egyptian communities. This was the first joint event that we have tried in cooperation with the IOM. KOICA donated school supplies and books for the children at the end of the event.
We will organise similar activities through which we can be closer to the Egyptian community. The situation of the Egyptian society and economy is getting more stable. Egypt is more stable than I actually thought before I come here, yet there’re still some challenges such as inequality, which is I am sure the Egyptian government will tackle continuously. KOICA wishes to contribute to such government’s efforts and to the needs of the local communities.
How do you perceive the relationship between Korea and Egypt?
Korea and Egypt are getting closer, and we are enjoying best relationship ever these days, but there are many things yet to learn about each other for further collaboration. We need to increase our mutual understanding in various aspects, and KOICA would like to play an important part of it.