Bringing Asia and Africa together

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 16 Sep 2023

Egypt is set to host the flagship Eighth Annual Meetings of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Sharm El-Sheikh later this month.



The Eighth Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh on 25-26 September, marking the AIIB’s first in-person meetings since 2019 and the first in Africa.

According to an official statement, the annual meetings in Sharm El-Sheikh is a flagship event offering a unique occasion to showcase AIIB’s accomplishments and seek invaluable insights and guidance from shareholders on its strategic direction and initiatives.

“Moreover, it serves as a dynamic hub for dialogue among delegates from AIIB members, alongside partners, business leaders, civil-society organisations and experts from a range of fields from all around the world,” the statement said.

The theme of the Eighth Annual Meetings this year is “Sustainable Growth in a Challenging World”, which highlights the bank’s continuing commitment to supporting the key infrastructure demands of its members. It alludes to the climate-centred global agenda and the compounding challenges faced by its members.

As a founding member of the AIIB, Egypt contributes to fostering the Africa-Asia partnership in order to achieve sustainable development goals, improve the services provided to people in Africa, and facilitate their livelihoods, Mohamed Maait, minister of finance and Egypt’s governor on the AIIB, said during a virtual lead-up event with AIIB senior officials in the Finance Ministry’s new headquarters in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital.

According to Maait, the fact that the AIIB will be holding its annual meetings in Africa and Egypt for the first time clearly shows that it is completely aware of Egypt’s unique location and political influence and that it is also keen to boost its investments in infrastructure in Egypt in partnership with the private sector.

“Egypt and the AIIB share a historic and long-standing relationship, starting when Egypt joined as a non-regional founding member in August 2016,” Maait said, adding that “since then, we have successfully leveraged our partnership and jointly financed projects in the energy and water sectors and for the Covid-19 response, which have had a positive impact on the lives of many Egyptian communities.”

He said that “by cooperating across borders and working together in collaboration, Egypt and the AIIB will continue to work together to achieve sustainable development through infrastructure.”

Maait stressed that Egypt is making all the preparations necessary to make the AIIB’s meetings in Sharm El-Sheikh a huge success. President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi will attend the inauguration session and will deliver a speech highlighting the partnership between Egypt and the AIIB and the role the Bank is playing as a bridge between Africa and Asia, Maait said.

He added that the “AIIB is a financially strong bank focusing on infrastructure and climate areas, and it is also heavily involved in supporting the private sector to play a greater role in local development.”

The AIIB’s capital stands at $100 billion. Egypt’s subscription stands at $650 million, making it the largest subscriber in Africa.

The virtual event, which took place on 7 September, saw AIIB senior officials joining Maait, Deputy Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk, and a number of private-sector players to discuss how the Beijing-based multilateral Bank can benefit the Egyptian private sector ahead of its Annual Meetings in Sharm El-Sheikh later this month.

While Maait is Egypt’s governor at the Bank, Kouchouk is AIIB executive director for Constituency Six, which includes Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia, among 12 other countries.

Egypt has received $1.3 billion in funding from the AIIB across five projects, and out of this amount the AIIB has contributed 250 million euros to the country’s transport sector (the construction of the Alexandria-Abu Qir metro line), $210 million to the Benban Solar Power Plant in Aswan, $360 million to fund the budget deficit, $300 million to the water sector (sanitary drainage services in rural areas), and $150 million as a credit line to the National Bank of Egypt, Kouchouk said.

He said that the Sharm El-Sheikh Meetings will offer a golden opportunity for the Egyptian private sector to explore funding from the AIIB in infrastructure development. “The government in Egypt is planning to raise the private sector’s contribution to the national economy to 65 per cent, and this will only come through helping this sector to get the necessary funding from various local and foreign sources,” Kouchouk said.

Maait said “we are planning to raise the AIIB’s funding in Egypt to $40 billion to cover 220 projects in the country… We have prepared a list of projects that need funding in many promising fields like renewable energy, transport, water, telecommunications, and green hydrogen.”

He indicated that “in Sharm El-Sheikh we will also be the voice of Africa, reflecting the hopes of many African countries to get funding for development infrastructure.”

AIIB Vice-President and Corporate Secretary Ludger Schuknecht said that “the world faces roughly a $50 trillion gap between projected investment and the end amount needed to provide adequate global infrastructure by 2040, and for Egypt alone that figure is projected to be $675 billion between now and 2040.”

Konstantin Limitovsky, AIIB’s vice-president for investment operations, said that some 40 per cent of the bank’s funded projects are in the private sector.

“Today, we have already financed 231 projects in 35 member countries, with a total approved funding of $44 billion, including 97 private-sector projects. Within this active portfolio, in one third of projects we mobilise capital to leverage our own investments,” he said.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 14 September, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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