INTERVIEW: European aid for development

Maha Hassan, Tuesday 5 Jul 2022

Vice President of the European Investment Bank Gelsomina Vigliotti explains its recent activities in Egypt and help in preparation for the COP27 meeting in November to Maha Hassan.

European aid for development
Vigliotti

 

Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Gelsomina Vigliotti was in Cairo last week to represent the bank at the inauguration of the latest part of Line 3 of the Cairo Metro, for which the EIB provided 600 million euros in financing.

“This project represents the largest single transport project backed by the EIB in Africa,” Vigliotti said.

Transferring millions of people every day and providing a faster and more sustainable transport alternative to car use, the Metro is a model for sustainable transport in global cities that will improve access to jobs and education, cut pollution, and reduce carbon emissions, she added.

The EIB is the world’s largest international public bank, owned directly by the 27 European Union member states. Egypt is the bank’s largest country of operations outside the EU, according to Vigliotti.

Since 1979, the bank has provided Egypt with more than 14 billion euros to finance water, energy, education, and transport projects as well as in the form of private-sector investment. Since the EIB opened its first office outside Europe in Cairo in 2003, it has strengthened its engagement with the Egyptian government, public sector partners, and business.

In 2021 alone, the EIB provided Egypt with just over one billion euros for urban transport, high-speed telecommunications, and business financing through a new credit line with Banque Misr.

Vigliotti said that in the coming few months, significant new EIB financing for the private sector will be unveiled, provided through new credit lines with leading local partners in the banking sector.

She said the bank was looking forward to its role in helping Egypt to prepare for the UN COP27 meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh in November, adding that the EIB is the world’s largest financier of climate action, renewable energy, and water projects.

As the current chair of a group of multilateral financial institutions, the bank, according to Vigliotti, is working with global partners to mobilise global capital to tackle the impact of climate change and accelerate investment that delivers climate action.

She added that although this was her first official visit to Egypt, she and her colleagues had been working closely with Egyptian partners over recent months.

Last month, Vigliotti and EIB President Werner Hoyer received both Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat and Foreign Minister and COP27 President-designate Sameh Shoukri at the EIB’s Luxembourg headquarters to discuss how the bank can help with arrangements for the COP27 meeting.

EIB Management Committee Vice President Ambroise Fayolle was also in Cairo in May for discussions with COP27 organisers and to enhance climate cooperation.

This is also the first high-level EIB visit to Egypt since the bank launched its new dedicated development finance arm, EIB Global. According to the EIB website, the new arm is dedicated to development finance, climate action, innovative investments, and sustainable living.

EIB Global was launched at the start of the year following approval by the EIB’s 27 EU member states.

Vigliotti said the EIB’s firm commitment and strong engagement with Egypt, as part of the Team Europe approach born in the context of the EU’s Covid-19 response to support partner countries and respond to the pandemic in a coordinated manner, reflected the close partnership between the EU and Egypt.

“The excellent cooperation between the EIB, the EU Delegation in Egypt, and Team Europe partners is key for Europe’s close cooperation with Egypt,” she said.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the EIB worked closely with Egyptian financing partners to ensure that Egyptian companies could continue to access finance when faced with the unprecedented health, business and trade challenges triggered by the pandemic, she told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Since the pandemic started, the EIB has provided more than eight billion euros for private and public investment across Africa. It has provided more than 1.6 billion euros of new targeted business financing in Egypt during the crisis.

This includes the streamlined financing approved by the EU finance ministers in April 2020 within weeks of the impact of the pandemic being recognised.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 7 July, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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