Egypt is one of the countries that best handled the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigating its socioeconomic impacts through its homegrown response program, said Hideki Matsunaga, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Regional Director for the Middle East and Europe.
Matsunaga made his comments during his meeting on Tuesday with Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, on his first official visit to Egypt.
The meeting took place in the presence of Yoshifumi Omura, the Chief Representative of JICA's Egypt Office, alongside other JICA representatives in Egypt’s Office, to discuss and enhance cooperation between both countries across various sectors.
During the meeting, Matsunaga pointed out how Egypt succeeded in the global celebration of transferring Ancient Egypt’s royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC); adding that this is all in preparation of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) celebratory opening.
Matsunaga commended on the role of the ministry of international cooperation in coordination with concerned entities in promoting partnerships with JICA, highlighting the ministry’s efforts in the development financing agreement for budget support that was signed in 2021 at a value of $240 million.
He also expressed a desire for more collaborations during the coming period to maximise the added value of the partnership and to opening new horizons of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
On her side, Al-Mashat applauded the strategic cooperation between Egypt and Japan, which proved necessary especially during the COVID-19 pandemic through $9.3 million in development financing, alongside other means of cooperation.
Al-Mashat reviewed the strategy and vision of the ministry through the principles of economic diplomacy, which focuses on advancing international partnerships to accelerate the development of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Egypt. The joint projects implemented with JICA are part of the global partnerships narrative that puts people at the core, projects in action, and purpose as the driver.
The minister said that despite the challenges that development cooperation was faced with during 2020, the partnership with JICA succeeded in completing many projects, including the agreement to develop the Cairo Metro Line four; the opening of the Egypt-Japan University Of Science & Technology (E-JUST) and the implementation of New Deirut Barrages project in cooperation with the ministry of water resources and irrigation.
The discussion between Al-Mashat and Matsunaga also looked into future areas of cooperation and the possibility of collaborating in comprehensive health insurances, as well as current areas of cooperation in the field of antiquities and in the development of the Grand Egyptian Museum.
Both Al-Mashat and Matsunaga also emphasised the importance of the private sector engagement in the national development framework in order to create job opportunities and promote sustainable growth in the country.
In February, the ministries of international cooperation and finance concluded a concessional development financing agreement worth 25 billion yen ($240 million) with Japan covering the energy sector and national budget support.
The ongoing cooperation portfolio between Egypt and JICA amounts to $2.7 billion.
This includes $287 million for investment in human capital through the Egyptian-Japanese partnership for education development; $1.12 billion for electricity; $552 million for transportation; $450 million for tourism and antiquities; $240 million for the financing of development policies and $57 million for irrigation.
According to the annual report published by the ministry of international cooperation in 2020 titled, 'International Partnerships for Sustainable Development: Writing the Future in a Changing Global Dynamic', the ministry secured development financing agreements worth $9.8 billion during the year. $6.7 billion was secured for financing sovereign projects representing 67.7 percent of the portfolio in total, and the private sector received a financing worth $3.2 billion holding 32.3 percent.