If you need to renew your shop, building, or advertising licence, you may now be lucky enough to receive the service closer than you think.
“Municipality on Wheels: Local Services Delivered to Your Doorstep” is a recently launched service in which services are brought closer to citizens by a bus that tours various districts and enables them to avoid often-crowded government offices.
It is one of the services rolled out by the Ministry of Local Development and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development with the support of the German development agency the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, better known as GIZ.
The mobile municipality buses are part of efforts being made to improve public services, which in turn fall under the broader umbrella of governance, one of five priority areas in which GIZ is offering its expertise to the Egyptian government.
The other four, according to Alexander Solyga, the new country director of GIZ, are energy, water, urban development, and economic development. Solyga previously served as country director of GIZ Sudan from 2016. He succeeds Andreas Kuck, who served as country director in Egypt from 2015.
GIZ is currently implementing 16 projects with a total budget of 150 million euros in all parts of Egypt in these priority areas on behalf of the German government, the European Union, and other parties.
Other projects in the area of governance, according to Solyga, include one on combating sexual harassment in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and another on the social inclusion of youth and persons with disabilities to be implemented with the Ministry of Social Solidarity. It will start in April 2021 and run for three to four years.
Germany and Egypt concluded negotiations on cooperation for the years to come earlier this month. The German government committed 132.8 million euros for further projects over the next two years. Out of that sum, 52.8 million euros have been committed to projects to be implemented by GIZ for existing projects and new ones agreed by the two countries.
The German government has aligned itself with the priority areas developed by the Egyptian government, Solyga stressed. Furthermore, “we do not do that in isolation. Whatever we contribute, we bear in mind the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
Another project labelled as governance is digitisation. Solyga said that GIZ supports the government’s efforts in this regard, adding that it was implementing the digitisation of public services, installing digital systems to make processes more efficient, and starting on a new project related to e-government with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
“It is not an easy path. It’s a long process, but Egypt with the brains it has and the capacity that is already there has the potential,” Solyga said.
One of the main areas of GIZ support is the creation of a public service map, being a catalogue of the 500 most-demanded services by citizens. The government is proceeding to digitise the services.
Another major area of cooperation is water, which involves work with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities on everything concerning water in cities, such as improving the supply of drinking water, wastewater, and treatment for reuse.
The other part of this is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, because most water is used in agriculture. “Since we do not have the possibility to generate water, we support Egypt with knowledge on how to use it efficiently,” Solyga said.
One form of doing this is by training farmers through field schools, or plots of land where they go to learn new techniques. “We are trying to get as close as possible to the beneficiaries,” he said.
Among the areas in which GIZ has long helped the Egyptian government is technical and vocational training. Solyga said that across the years GIZ has worked on improving the training of students and making sure it is demand-oriented.
Teacher training and the development of the curriculum are also important components of the process, he said. “We are trying to get people to finish school and then train at companies. This is dual vocational training,” Solyga said.
One example of GIZ’s contribution to technical training is the Egyptian German Training (EGT) Academy, recently inaugurated as a state-of-the-art training hub for vocational training in the region. The EGT Academy is a cooperation project between Siemens Energy and GIZ.
“We need the training to enable Egyptian engineers to operate and maintain the machinery in the new energy plants built by Siemens,” Solyga said, adding that the training caters to new challenges as they emerge.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 December, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly