Egypt’s National Bank of Egypt (NBE) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed an agreement, worth €800m, to meet the financial needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises and build their resilience to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat.
In a statement, the minister added that the agreement between the two banks comes as part of a larger agreement approved by the EIB worth€1.9bn, where €1.1bn will be provided for the transport sector and €800m for SMEs.
Minister Al-Mashat emphasised the importance of the partnership with the EIB in investing in Egypt’s future. It is also important for pushing forward with the country’s 2030 National Agenda and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, the partnership will help Egypt undertake Goal 8 for Decent Work, through supporting technological upgrading, access to financial services, innovation, and encouraging the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Since the start of this year, Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation has signed several agreements with the EIB, including an agreement worth €800m to develop the Alexandria wastewater treatment plant.
Minister Al-Mashat explained that this comes in line with her ministry’s strategy to strengthen Egypt’s economic diplomacy. Collaboration with development partners maps ODA financing with the 17 UN SDGs, and centres them around the global partnerships narrative with its three main pillars: people at the core, projects in action and purpose as the driver.
Last July, the minister held a virtual meeting with Flavia Palanza, Director of Operations for Neighboring Countries at the EIB. The meeting was held to discuss future cooperation between Egypt and the bank, particularly in regards to financing transport project to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all.
The meeting also discussed cooperation in the agricultural sector, as well as the bank’s willingness to cooperate in the field of health to help Egypt overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and building the resilience of SMEs.
It is worth noting that the bilateral strategic partnership between Egypt and the EIB dates back to 1979. It includes various projects in many sectors to support social and economic development and create job opportunities in the country, with funds amounting to approximately €9.8bn. The current portfolio between the two sides amounts to about €2.3bn.