The European Commission has approved a grant of 100 million euros for Egypt, to help improve living conditions for the poor in Cairo, create more jobs and make sustainable energy more widely available, it announced on Wednesday.
The support, part of the Commission's Annual Action Programme, will help Egypt face some of its most important and urgent challenges as it moves towards more democracy and shared prosperity, a statement from the European body claimed.
Building the country's energy resources seems to be the main focus, with 60 million euros from the total to be used in improving Egypt's sustainable energy supply and increasing the financial transparency of the energy sector.
Meanwhile 20 million euros will be directed towards residents of underdeveloped areas in the Greater Cairo region, with a further 20 million being used for trade and domestic market-related reforms which are expected to trigger inclusive economic growth and job creation.
One million Egyptian people will benefit from the programme, says the European Commission.
"Our support will help where it is most needed – providing better living conditions for poorer people, more jobs and cheaper energy. It will help to make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people across Egypt," said EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle.
The Commission's statement said that 60 per cent of people in Cairo currently live in slum areas and lack basic social services like access to drinking water, sewage and waste disposal. Residents often build without obtaining building permits or without any proper connection to public infrastructure, it added.
In trade, the Commission said it will improve export opportunities by providing training, legal advice and helping to establish a proper regulatory environment. As well as improving quality of exports, these measures will also ultimately help to create jobs and lead to lower food prices for the population, it claimed.
In energy, the programme will aim to promote renewable energy resources and cut down on greenhouse gases, through measures like the increased use of solar heaters, the creation of energy-saving programmes for public buildings and street lighting and by making tariffs more transparent.