The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has chosen Egypt as the top investment market for 2021-2025, based on the three objectives of reducing carbon emissions to promote environmental sustainability, promoting equal opportunities for women, and digital transformation.
Egypt had already been the top investment market for the EBRD during the previous 2016-2020 term.
The nomination came during the EBRD’s 29th annual meeting, which was held virtually from London and concluded on Thursday.
The Bank's board of governors has also elected Odile Renaud-Basso of France as the Bank’s next president for the coming four years, succeeding Sir Suma Chakrabarti, who stepped down in July after serving two full four-year terms.
It also approved to raise the bank's green investments to 50 percent, up from about 40 percent recorded in 2019, as a way to address the challenges of COVID-19 and climate change.
“I look forward to working with all shareholders, the management and the staff in the coming months to implement the ambitious roadmap that was just agreed at the annual meeting,” said Basso.
On Thursday, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, who represented Egypt in the meeting, said that Egypt supports the new EBRD strategy for 2021-2025 with an ambitious plan to expand its climate investments and become a majority green bank by 2025.
“The bank’s investments in 2019 amounted to around €1.2 billion in 23 projects, of which 80 percent headed to the private sector, which reflects the role played by the Ministry of International Cooperation to coordinate with multiple development partners and bilateral partners to strengthen economic cooperation and support the private sector as well as civil society,” said Al-Mashat.
She added that investments focus on meeting the targets of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which also represent the state's development priorities, namely environmental sustainability, renewable energy, infrastructure, small and medium enterprises, as well as women's economic empowerment.
Al-Mashat said that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that international cooperation delivers impactful results for the development of Egypt, referring to the positive economic indicators for Egypt despite the impact of the pandemic, as the bank’s recent report revealed that it is expected to grow by 2 percent in 2020 and rise to 5 percent in 2021, making it the only economy in the region to escape a recession for this year.
Overall, the EBRD has invested more than €6.5 billion in more than 116 projects in Egypt in various sectors, the most important of which are infrastructure, small and medium enterprises, and renewable energy.
Al-Mashat added that reform is a “continuous process,” and the government of Egypt is keen on implementing structural reforms to ensure that the country accelerates its push towards sustainable growth.
During 2020, EBRD has rolled out a €21 billion support package to help firms meet liquidity needs and keep vital services flowing in 38 countries.
“We need to preserve the progress made so far in our countries’ transitions. We also have to move even faster towards a more resilient and more sustainable future, as the strategy was put forward to the governors, who represent the EBRD’s 71 shareholders,” acting EBRD president Jürgen Rigterink said.
Under the new strategy, the EBRD aims to promote equality of opportunity through access to skills and employment, finance and entrepreneurship and support for women, young people and under-served communities.
It will also accelerate digital transition, unleashing the power of technology to bring about change for the better, confirming the EBRD’s interest in a limited and incremental expansion of its activities to sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq during the next five-year period.
The EBRD’s board of governors has announced that it will consider an update on the strategy in 2022 after the 2021 annual meeting.
Meanwhile, the board agreed to a request from Iraq to become a shareholder in the Bank.
During the meeting, EBRD officials disclosed that the bank has been investing at unprecedented levels this year after already delivering record financing worth more than €10 billion in 2019.
Furthermore, investments rose to just over €5 billion in the first six months of 2020, up from €3.7 billion in 2019 and a previous first-half record of €3.9 billion in 2016.
Additionally, the Bank has complemented its increased financing with scaled-up policy support.
The pipeline of future projects is also at a record high and the EBRD has the potential to increase annual financing to well above €10 billion in the five-year period to 2025, according to the bank.