Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation, together with representatives from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan’s Embassy in Cairo, have organised a virtual high-level policy dialogue to deepen levels of cooperation for fiscal year (FY) 2021/22.
The cooperation between the two sides will see development projects implemented across several sectors, including health, agriculture, aviation, electricity, transportation, and environment. The two sides are also set to promote an exchange of knowledge on science and technology.
The virtual meeting brought together stakeholders to ensure coordinated action, in which several representatives from Japanese institutions as well as 41 representatives from a number of Egyptian ministries in attendance.
Randa Hamzeh, Assistant Minister of International Cooperation for Planning and Strategic Studies, presented on behalf of Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat.
Hamzeh outlined the principles of economic diplomacy to strengthen the ‘Global Partnerships for Effective Development’. These principles include regularly organising multi-stakeholder platforms to ensure that all development projects are streamlined and effectively coordinated.
This will be to ensure that the pace of development is accelerated to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It will also ensure that a consistent Global Partnerships Narrative People&Projects&Purpose (P&P&P) is adopted; and ODA financing for the SDGs for all projects with multilateral and bilateral development partners is mapped.
Mona Ahmed, Head of the Asian Cooperation Sector at the Ministry of International Cooperation, praised the support provided to Egypt by the Japanese government. She noted that this has been particularly helpful in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and has focused on many development projects across several sectors.
The most important of these sectors are energy, transportation, health, and education.
Ahmed noted that both countries are looking forward to strengthening cooperation during the coming period, taking into account the UN’s 17 SDGs.
For his part, Economic Adviser to the Japanese Embassy Miyamoto Sokago commended the depth of cooperation and strategic partnership relations between the two countries.
He added that the partnership is looking to enter a ‘new stage of cooperation’, which seeks to prioritise and accelerate a clean energy transition for Egypt, as well as to contain the coronavirus’ spread.
Yoshifumi Omura, head of the JICA office in Cairo, reviewed the joint cooperation between the two countries. All projects aim to focus on three pillars: ‘People at the Core’, ‘Projects in Action’ and ‘Purpose as the Driver’, to ensure sustainable development.
These pillars have been put in place in the following projects.
People at the core: The Egyptian Japanese University of Science, the Abu Rish University Hospital project and the Japanese schools project has helped foster innovation, and the exchange of knowledge and technical experience between the two countries. It has invested in Egypt’s youth, to ensure that they receive multidisciplinary teaching and learning.
Projects in action: Over 12 projects worth a total of $2bn have been implemented. One successful renewable energy project includes the Ras Ghareb Windfarm, which is the first independent power producer project in the country. It aims to contribute to the Egyptian Government’s strategy to supply 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2022..
Purpose as the driver: All projects have targeted over 22 of the UN’s SDGs, mainly Goal 4 for quality education, Goal 7 for affordable and clean energy, Goal 11 for sustainable cities and communities, and Goal 17 for partnerships for the goals.
To support a post-COVID-19 recovery, JICA aims to focus on expanding renewable energy, whilst aiding in the maintenance and improvement of the transmission and distribution grid. It also seeks to promote the off-grid power supply, build a hydrogen energy-based society, and improve facilities for existing thermal power plants.
The agency further aims to push for Egypt’s digital transformation. It looks to do this through the support and investment of Japanese companies to increase automation and remote work, which is essential in helping to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In regards to health, over $18.5m of grants have been dedicated to support the export of Japanese medical equipment. The funds have been granted alongside technical assistance, to boost Egypt’s health sector and its capacity to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan has been supporting Egypt’s development in various sectors since 1954, with overall $1.3bn of aid and $6.8m of loans for energy, health, transport, tourism and education.