The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is currently carrying out 16 projects in various areas across Egypt, according to Alexander Solyga, GIZ Egypt Country Director.
The German development agency has contributed a total budget worth €150m to the projects, which cover energy, water, urban development, economic development, and governance.
Solyga said that the current cooperation portfolio between Egypt and Germany amounts to €1.7bn, covering various priority sectors. He has over 28 years of experience in international development cooperation, and in 2016 served as GIZ’s country director in Sudan.
Daily News Egypt sat down with Solyga to learn more about the development agency’s programmes and strategy in Egypt.
Can you elaborate on GIZ’s programmes in Egypt?
GIZ is a German organisation working on behalf of the German government, the European Union (EU), and other development partners, in over 120 countries with more than 20,000 employees.
It has been operating in Egypt since 1956, and works as a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. As part of its Egypt operations, GIZ provides technical expertise, develops capacities, and delivers effective solutions in close partnership with local governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
GIZ supports the Egyptian people and government in working towards the Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
GIZ works with local government partners, 14 ministries, the private sector, and civil society organisations to implement the joint projects assigned.
Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development signed a cooperation agreement in November 2020. This will see 11 new and existing projects implemented with financing of €132.8m over the next two years.
GIZ Egypt works with local and international partners to support the achievement of the SDGs, and to see Egypt prosper and thrive economically, socially, and environmentally. The agency works hand-in-hand with local government partners, including 14 ministries, the private sector and civil society organisations to implement the joint projects assigned.
What are the agency’s current areas of operation?
GIZ supports Egypt in its efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030, to create better social and economic prospects for the Egyptian people. The German government has aligned with priority areas developed by the Egyptian government, assigning GIZ as an implementing partner to support its achievement.
We cooperate with the Egyptian government in some of the priority sectors, namely sustainable economic development including technical vocational education and training, energy, water, urban development and governance.
Other projects in the area of governance include combating sexual harassment, in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and another on the social inclusion of youth and persons with disabilities to be implemented with the Ministry of Social Solidarity. It will start in April 2021 and run for three to four years.
What is the value of the agency’s projects in Egypt?
GIZ is currently implementing 16 projects, with a total budget of €150m in various sectors, including: energy; water; urban development; economic development; and governance.
You have cooperated with the Egyptian government on projects to digitise public services. How do you assess the country’s experience in this field?
We have seen now that novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a world challenge, which pushed everything towards digitalisation. Consequently, the Egyptian government is exerting huge efforts to digitalise all its services, and accordingly, we pay attention and cooperate with the country in this field.
We have joint projects as a contribution from the German side. Egypt recently took critical steps to digitalise services, and develop new cities like the New Administrative Capital (NAC) into becoming a cashless community.
The Egyptian government has also launched a project for e-governance to digitalise public services. Moreover, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology focuses on this issue, and I think it has great potential and the capacity to succeed in it. However, digitalisation is a long-term process and not easy to be completed in three or five years.
Therefore, one of the main areas of support to the Egyptian government is improving the public service map. This provides a wide range of information on the 500 most demanded governmental services, to improve citizens’ access to public services at local level.
One of the main areas of cooperation between GIZ and Egypt has been in water and wastewater. Can you tell us about your programmes in this sector?
We are cooperating with the Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Communities on everything concerning water supply in cities, such as improving the drinking water and wastewater networks.
In addition, we work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation as most of Egypt’s water is used for agriculture. Since we do not have the possibility to generate water, we support Egypt with knowledge on how to use water most efficiently.
Moreover, we train farmers on new techniques to make the best use of water. Aside from this, 500,000 persons now have better access to sanitation and wastewater treatment as a result of the contribution by GIZ and its partners.
What are your programmes in the vocational training sector?
We have a lot of experience in that field, and cooperate with Egypt’s Ministry of Education and Technical Education. GIZ has worked on improving the training of students and making sure it is demand-oriented.
Teacher training and the development of educational curricula are also important components of the process to have a qualified youth for the labour market.
Training is important, which we provide, to enable Egyptian engineers to operate and maintain the machinery in the new energy plants built by Siemens.
A total of 74,682 people have participated in longer-term vocational training measures as a result of GIZ Egypt’s contribution.
What are your programmes for supporting Egypt’s efforts in improving infrastructure and road systems in new cities?
A total of 3,246 MWhel has been saved as a result of GIZ Egypt’s contribution in this sector. This runs alongside a total of 2,300 kW in installed capacity of renewable energy for generating electricity has been added as a result of GIZ Egypt’s contribution.