Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation has received wide praise for its people-centred approach to development cooperation from the international community.
The ministry recently held its Wisdom 17 end-of-year event, in which it launched its annual report for 2020, entitled ‘International Partnerships for Sustainable Development’, and a new interactive website.
The new website has been designed to track Egypt’s progress towards successfully implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in collaboration with its development partners.
Over 300 stakeholders from the wider international community participated in the event, including Marina Wes, Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti at the World Bank, and Heike Harmgart, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Other participants are: Leslie Reed, Mission Director for Egypt at the US Agency for International Development (USAID); Beatrice Maser, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the International Finance Cooperation (IFC); UN country representatives; representatives from Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the private sector; academics; public figures; and civil society figures.
The report tracks Egypt’s progress towards the 17 SDGs, and draws on the latest available data found as part of the Ministry of International Cooperation’s ODA SDG mapping exercise.
It also provides an overview of Egypt’s implementation efforts, highlighting areas of progress and the implications of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on each SDG.
Harmgart expressed her appreciation of the Ministry’s role in mainstreaming SDGs as part of development cooperation, and for putting the focus more strongly on the private sector.
She added that the EBRD is “truly impressed by the website, and we are looking forward to working more intensely on the post-COVID-19, recovery and building back better to achieve the SDGs”.
Alfredo Abad, Head of the European Investment Bank (EIB), commended the Ministry of International Cooperation’s role in fostering dialogue. This was particularly in pushing for “inclusiveness with all development partners”, and to strengthen diverse engagement.
For her part, Maser underlined the Ministry’s proactive initiative and drive to bring together development partners to contribute to Egypt’s progress on the SDGs. Put together, this has been used to promote Egypt’s national development.
She added that the 2020 Annual report and the new interactive website showcase the engagement and contribution of development partners to Egypt’s progress. It also underscores the value of international partnerships in delivering positive change for the country.
Maser pledged continued engagement and support in 2021, particularly as the focus will centre on the private sector, which presents a “huge potential for Egypt and a great opportunity to unlock this potential”.
USAID Mission Director Leslie Reed commended the Ministry’s fresh and modern vision in documenting Egypt’s development cooperation. Reed also noted that the Ministry’s efforts are a “source of inspiration” for development partners.
“We need your energy and inspiration as we have a long road ahead,” she added
For his part, Uwe Gehlen, Head of German Development Cooperation agency (GIZ) in Egypt, highlighted the Ministry’s initiative to push for more concise dialogue with development partners.
He said that this was critical during the pandemic, and made the “process much more transparent and easier for us”.
Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director, stated that the Ministry took an “extra step ahead of us all” in an insightful and telling way. As a result, the World Bank is looking forward to continued collaboration and building on the achievements of 2020.
Ambassador Raouf Saad, Assistant to Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, added that the Ministry of International Cooperation’s efforts are “very much needed and timely”.
He added that it “illustrates and promotes the importance of Egypt’s relationship with its development partners, which is important not only in terms of assistance, but also in integrating Egypt’s position in the global economy.”
According to its 2020 annual report, the Ministry of International Cooperation secured development financing agreements worth $9.8bn during 2020. Of this amount, $6.7bn was allocated to financing sovereign projects, and $3.1bn went towards supporting the private sector.
Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat underlined that her ministry has been working to apply the three principles of economic diplomacy, which are: organising multi-stakeholder platforms; ODA SDG mapping; and the Global Partnerships Narrative (People&Projects&Purpose).