Speaking to Ahram Online during his seven-day visit to Egypt that concluded on Monday, his first official visit to the country, Bowman stressed that Egypt has enormous potential when it comes to renewable energy and green growth.
The visit aims to follow up Egypt’s efforts to prepare for COP27, to launch the country strategy for Egypt (2022-2027), and to chart a roadmap regarding cooperation for the government’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
During his visit, he met with number of Egyptian officials and decision makers.
“COP27 is a real opportunity for Egypt to set out its ambition for the future and its plans to decarbonise its economy as well as designing a time table towards a net-zero economy. The climate crisis is a serious challenge globally and Egypt has made good efforts in this area,” according to Bowmen.
He also added that Egypt would achieve its goal to become a regional hub for renewable energy, given the country enjoys an abundance of natural resources including sun, winds and lands,” Bowman said.
Regarding EBRD’s country strategy for Egypt through 2027, officially launched on Saturday, Bowman told Ahram Online that it is focused on three key priorities, including building a more inclusive economy for women and young people in local businesses, increasing the country’s competitiveness, particularly ensuring a level playing field within the private sector, and accelerating Egypt’s green transformation.
The strategy comes in line with the framework of Egypt’s commitment to transitioning towards a green economy, to increasing investment in human capital and to developing infrastructure for a green and sustainable transport sector.
Over the past four years, EBRD named Egypt as the site of its largest operations in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region.
Touching upon the private sector and the role it plays in supporting the government’s efforts, Bowmen told Ahram Online that the private sector is a significant priority for the EBRD in the Egyptian market, adding that the bank is working with the government to increase the role of the private sector in the country’s economy.
“It is very clear that the private sector role is necessary to generate high-quality jobs, especially amid the ongoing challenges that hit all the markets including Egypt, which would be needed in the future. I am struck by the progress that the authorities have made over recent years in terms of the macroeconomic reforms through working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and how well the Egyptian economy has coped with the COVID-19 crisis. Yet, there is more to be done in regards with enabling the private sector to generate the growth that is necessary for Egypt’s economy,” Bowmen explained.
He also hailed Egypt’s second wave of reforms, which is centred on structural reforms, emphasising that these should involves deep structural reforms that create a level playing field for the private sector.
Moreover, the public-private partnerships (PPPs) play a role in this respect, according to Bowmen.
He added that the best way to increase the private sector’s role in the economy is through providing a proper regulatory and a business environment and that will encourage the private sector investment in the domestic market.
In this respect, Bowmen expounded that the EBRD invests over €1 billion in Egypt annually, 75 percent of which is dedicated to support private sector companies. The bank is also working with the government to improve the business environment. They also works with businesses, giving them advice on how to succeed.
Responding to a question from Ahram Online, Bowman indicated the bank would cooperate with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) to identify projects the bank can support.
“I think one area that is particularly promising in this context is water desalination programme, powered by the TSFE. We are in close discussions with the fund regarding some of the early-stage ideas of the privatisation programme as well.”
“We would ultimately partner in the projects that will come out of this process and the TSFE plans for equity injections. We are willing to avail finances to the winning bidders of such projects in the future as well as in the ultimate financing package,” Bowmen illustrated.
During his visit to Egypt, Bowmen visited the Suez Canal Economic Zone to explore its investment opportunities. In addition, he toured Benban solar energy park located in the Western Desert, one of the world’s largest solar power plants.
“We cooperate with the Suez Canal Authority in terms off policy engagement. This includes improving the investors’ experience, so that investors have an access to the investment opportunities the zone enjoys through a one-stop-shop system that provides a single point of contact which make the process easier for them to operate. This could led the EBRD to invest in the zone in the future, yet we have not decided that yet,” Bowmen spelled out.
He also added that the authority has promising investment opportunities and impressive plans for green hydrogen production.
During the EBRD’s country strategy launch event, Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources inked a memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) that aims to provide the required technical support for a local low-carbon hydrogen supply, as well as studying the technical, economic and regulatory feasibility of developing hydrogen supply chains.
In this respect, Bowmen told Ahram Online that green hydrogen and renewable energy like solar and wind has enormous potential to replace fossil fuel use in Egypt and it is in line with recent action to create a zero-carbon economy globally.
“Through this MoU, we will work with the Egyptian authorities to develop a strategy for green hydrogen. Egypt has made great progress regarding the green transformation and has a very good story to tell in this regard,” he further added.
Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD.
The bank has invested approximately €7.2 billion across 127 project since the start of its operations in the country in 2012.