Egypt has maintained its position among the top three investment and operations countries for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in 2021 and beyond, President of the EBRD Odile Renaud-Basso said at the bank’s 30th annual meeting that concluded on Friday.
In 2020, Egypt was the EBRD’s largest country with regards to the value of operations in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, amounting to more than €1 billion or 47 per cent of the bank’s total investments in the region. This sum was used to finance 21 projects.
Since 2012, the EBRD has invested a total of over €7.2 billion in the Egyptian market to implement 127 projects. Egypt was also the largest country for the bank’s operations for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.
Kicking off on 28 June, the annual meeting of the EBRD lasted five days during which it discussed the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the regional countries it invests in and the role that green investments can play in their recovery and development.
The EBRD also released a number of reports during the event, including on regional economic prospects that projected Egypt’s real GDP growth to bounce back significantly in 2022 to 5.2 per cent, expecting it to reach 4.2 per cent in 2021.
The report also pointed out that Egypt’s economic growth in the first three quarters of the 2020-21 fiscal year (July 2020-March 2021) approached 1.9 per cent year-on-year, following a de-acceleration in growth in the 2019-20 fiscal year to 3.6 per cent, driven mainly by improvements in the wholesale and retail trade, agriculture, telecommunications, and construction.
Minister of International Cooperation and Egypt’s Governor at the EBRD Rania Al-Mashat pointed out that Egypt is among the bank’s founding members and that 80 per cent of the EBRD’s total local portfolio, amounting to €4.6 billion across 127 operations, is directed to the private sector.
The EBRD has a particular focus on supporting the private sector and backs its investments with advisory and policy activities, for example helping countries to develop policies for energy efficiency or renewable energy markets.
The EBRD will start talks and consultations with the Egyptian authorities concerning the bank’s new four-strategy plan for Egypt in September.
During the recent meeting, the EBRD president announced that the bank will fully conform to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by 2022 and will increase its allocations for the green economy from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of total investments in 2025.
Al-Mashat pointed to the positive efforts made by Egypt towards a green recovery, as its mission has not only been “to think green but also to act green” in all its development projects in order to help preserve the environment.
She stressed that Egypt has very close partnerships with the EBRD on developing green cities initiatives and endorsing plans towards a green recovery, adding that pushing for gender equality is also one of the top priorities within the strategic framework of the EBRD in the upcoming period.
The meeting also included the announcement of the winners of the EBRD’s Green Trade Facilitation Programme (Green TFP) in 2020, a year overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Green TFP allows partner banks to use their existing trade finance facilities to finance exports and imports as well as the local distribution of imported green technologies and materials, in line with the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition (GET) approach and the bank’s agenda to become a fully green bank by 2025.
Banque Misr was among the winners, obtaining the “Deal of the Year” award for green trade in supporting recycling in the metal-processing sector in Egypt, with an energy-saving impact equivalent to the annual generation of a 120 MW photovoltaic plant.
From 2016 to 2020, the Green TFP has supported 1,095 foreign-trade transactions involving trade in climate-change adaptation and mitigation technologies and materials, with a total amount of €958 million across 24 economies which the EBRD invests in.
The EBRD’s Green TFP currently includes more than 100 partner banks in 30 countries where the EBRD operates and more than 800 confirming banks worldwide.
The EBRD annual meeting was held virtually this year for the second time in a row because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its 31st round is scheduled to be held in Marrakesh in Morocco in 2022.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 July, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly