Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation and the World Bank have signed finance agreements worth $1.15bn since January 2020 to support over 30 million Egyptians in various sectors.
The agreements come as part of the ministry’s vision to strengthen economic relations with multilateral and bilateral development partners, in order to meet Egypt’s development financing needs. The financing has gone to a variety of sectors, the most important of which are health, housing, and the environment.
Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat said that her ministry has been committed to charting the course for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) financing as the world enters into a “decade of action and delivery”. This has meant a necessary redesigning of development finance that will be dedicated towards sustainable development and collectively achieving the National 2030 Agenda.
The Ministry of International Cooperation and the World Bank Group released, on Monday, a new report, entitled ‘Economic Monitor Report: From Crisis to Economic Transformation, Unleashing Egypt’s Potential in Productivity and Job creation’. The report was released in the presence of Egypt’s Minister of Education and Technical Education, Tarek Shawky.
Minister Al-Mashat said the report reflects Egypt’s resilience that has been singled out on the global stage through several international reports issued by the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
These reports highlighted that Egypt is the only economy in the Middle East that is likely to escape recession in 2020, as well as the only country with positive growth rates of 2% in 2020 and expectations of 5% in 2021.
The agreements come under the Ministry of International Cooperation’s Global Partnerships Narrative, which is defined by the triple Ps: people at the core, projects in action, and purpose as the driver.
At the start of the pandemic, International Cooperation Minister Rania Al-Mashat said her ministry held meetings under the first multi-stakeholder platform “Global Partnerships for Effective Development Cooperation”, to determine urgent financing needs and health sector priorities. These resulted in a $50m agreement with the World Bank as part of the rapid financing package to confront the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
To support Egypt’s transformational Universal Health Insurance System (UHIS), the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors have also approved $400m towards Egypt’s universal health coverage (UHC).
Under people at the core, the health sector projects instigated since 2018 include: improving services at 600 primary health-care facilities and 27 hospitals; screening one million blood units annually; expanding Hepatitis C screening for about 35 million citizens and treating some 1.5 million patients; as well as screening 20 million adults for non-communicable diseases.
In March 2020, the World Bank provided additional financing of $500m to Egypt, to support ongoing efforts on affordable formal housing for low-income households. This was also to strengthen the capacity of the country’s Social Housing and Mortgage Finance Fund to design policies and coordinate social housing programmes.
The fund oversees the “Inclusive Housing Finance Programme”, launched in 2015, which aims to provide affordable housing to almost 1 million Egyptian nationals of low and middle incomes by 2024. Prioritising women and youth, the programme also seeks to supervise the implementation of the housing programmes, manage land use and design policies.
To protect the environment, in September 2020, the World Bank provided $200m to support Egypt’s pollution reduction initiatives in critical sectors, and to increase resilience to air pollution in Greater Cairo. The project will focus on reducing vehicle emissions, improving the management of solid waste, and strengthening the air and climate decision-making system.
Under the Egypt Education Reform Project, the World Bank has helped support education facilities to 12.2 million primary school students, 8.9 million in junior high, and 2.8 million at the secondary level. This has taken place through a grant of $500m that was granted in August 2018.
Through a $900m grant signed in January, it aims to provide conditional family income support aimed at increasing food consumption, reduce poverty while encouraging families to keep children in school, provide families with needed health care, and protect Egypt’s poor elderly citizens above 65 years of age and citizens with severe disabilities and diseases as well as orphans.
The total current portfolio of bilateral cooperation between Egypt and the World Bank amounts to $5.38bn in various sectors including housing, sanitation, social solidarity, transportation, health, education, local development, petroleum, small enterprises and the environment.