Daily News Egypt exclusively received information from the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation clarifying three main financial agreements are expected to be signed on the side-lines of French president, Emanuel Macron’s planned visit to Egypt in the last quarter of 2018.
Ministerial data sent to Daily News Egypt upon request said Egypt and France are discussing financing social protection projects, mobile health clinics, and a technical support in the field of fashion.
The document showed that cooperation with France is thriving in many areas including health and education, which matches the governmental directives to focus more on social sectors, in addition to the traditional fields of cooperation between both countries, which are infrastructure, transportation, and energy.
Notably, more than 10 documents were signed during President Abdel Fattah Al-Sis’s visit to France in October including, a letter of intent to supply 500 mobile food units, a joint declaration with the AFD to provide technical assistance of €3.2m for energy sector, a joint declaration to support a budget in the field of social protection with a loan of up to €60m and an additional technical support.
Documents presidential signed also included measures to enhance cultural, educational, Francophone, university, scientific, and technical cooperation with France, a letter of intent in the field of railway cooperation between France’s national state-owned railway company (SNCF) and the Egyptian Railway Authority.
In the same context, governmental sources said that France mulls modernizing the French University in Egypt (UFE) after conducting a specialized study to update educational curricula, sending global professors, and expand its globally acknowledged certificates, noting, “the idea is still in primary phase, is not concluded yet and is being discussed with the several stakeholders.”
Sources added that the French side suggested three local firms to implement the UFE’s modernizing study as they are more aware of the local market and its needs.
Moreover, sources said that France will expand cooperation in health sector, noting that the Egyptian side has already signed an agreement with France to implement the primary health care project on March under which France will provide Egypt with €30m loan and a €1m grant.
Sources noted that Egypt has already received €10m through the signed loan, adding that France supported preparation of the new comprehensive health insurance law through sharing experiences with the Egyptian ministry of Finance.
France is very keen on supporting Egypt’s social protection, said sources adding that France will provide a loan worth €60m for supporting Egyptian budget and a €3m for the technical social protection under supervision of Ministry of Finance, two of them will be directed to technical experiences and implemented by the Ministry of Health.
Sources expected Egypt to receive the E60m supporting Egypt’s budget on two tranches every one worth €30m, noting “signing the official agreement is expected to take place after three months. Hopefully, we will sign it on the side-line of Macron’s planned visit to Egypt this year.”
Sources emphasized that Egypt well mulls the conditions of the international agreements making sure that the local entities are able to pay back, adding that the ministry always tries to get grants along with the loans to technically support the implementation process.
The French government in principle approved financing mobile health clinics project with a primary suggested total cost worth €10m, adding, “hopefully, we will be able to sign it on the side-lines of Macron’s planned visit.”
Current period witness mulling the project’s technical specifications, in accordance with France, noting that Egypt will announce the project’s tender and only French companies will be allowed to apply, while the Egyptian side will choose the best technical and financial offer.
Meanwhile, sources said that Egypt and France mull cooperating in the fashion sector, which is a new field of cooperation, adding that there are several suggestions including sharing experience in collaboration with French federation of fashion La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.
“We are discussing hosting global fashion weeks in Egypt to promote tourism, investments, which is considered a general direction right now,” said sources.
Sources noted that Ministry of Industry and Trade will announce, soon establishing new council for designing and fashion, adding, “France and Egypt may collaborate at a twinning project between the planned council and FHCM. We are in the early phases.”
Sources added that Egypt will benefit from the suggested project and a French delegation from FHCM will be invited to visit Egypt to closely see the Egyptian sightseeing that are suggested for hosting fashion shows.
Sources added that French and Egyptian sides are discussing the possibilities of organizing visit for the Egyptian young fashion designers to France to attend the fashion weeks, adding that both sides are negotiating France’s technical support for establishing fashion schools in Egypt.
Sources mentioned that both sides are expected to sign a MoU in the field of fashion shortly, adding that the new field of cooperation will enhance the relations between both countries.
Moreover, sources said that economic relations with France is thriving noting that minister of investment and international cooperation, Sahar Nasr, and minister of planning and administrative reform, Hala Al-Said attended the latest Arab World Business and Economic Meetings seminar about Egypt titled The Future of French-Egyptian Business Relations, which was organised by the Arab World Institute (AWI), in Paris, on Tuesday 26 June.
On the side-lines on Nasr’s visit, she signed a MoU with Jean-Louis Guigou, the president of the Mediterranean World Economic Foresight Institute (L’Institut de Prospective Economique du Monde Méditerranéen – IPEMED).
The MoU aims at enhancing regional and investment cooperation in the Euro-Mediterranean region and promoting investment opportunities in Egypt’s private sector investment map to 44 countries in the region, according to a ministerial press statement.
Nasr said that the ministry will work on developing bilateral cooperation with IPEMED in the areas of manufacturing, transportation, water, and energy, added the statement, pointing to the importance of promoting integration between Europe, the Mediterranean region, and Africa.
Sources noted that the Agence Francaise De Developpement (AFD)’s board will discuss the signed credit line for Egyptian women small and medium enterprises (SMEs), by the end of July.
Egyptian women are well presented in parliament and the cabinet, thus the global community is keen on supporting them, said the sources, adding that women always exert efforts to achieve her project’s goals and they can pay back loans.
Credit line value is suggested to be €50m, while the grant is expected to be more that €700,000, sources noted, adding that France is engaged in many projects in the Egyptian market.
The AFD also is engaged in a project called, Sludge treatment at the East Alexandria wastewater, aiming at building a sludge treatment unit at the East Alexandria wastewater treatment plant. This type of unit would be the first in Egypt outside Cairo and could act as a catalyst by encouraging the government to create similar units nationwide. The project contracting authority is the Construction Authority for Potable Water and Wastewater (CAPW), the public implementing agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities.
The AFD is financing the Sludge treatment at the East Alexandria wastewater project with €50m loan, said the sources adding “the first tranche disburse will take place within two months. AFD has financed the visibility study through a previous grant.
Sources added that the AFD’s CEO, Rémy Rioux, is expected to attend Convention on Biological Diversity’ (COP 14) meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh in November 2018, noting that France is very interested in the related climate change issues.
The nice thing with the French activities is that it aims to operate in other region outside Cairo, said the sources, adding that France is financing 26 MW photovoltaic power station near Aswan.
Sources emphasized the importance of the renewable energy in terms of prices of the long run, environmental aspects and reducing the traditional fuel consumption like oil and gas.
Additionally, sources noted that France is financing establishment of energy regional control centre in the Delta with €50m, expecting the project to begin soon after the announcement of the tender winner
Sources said that France is traditionally financing infrastructure and transportation projects as modernizing the Alexandria tramway network, subways noting that Egypt and France discussed cooperation in the field of railways technical support, but they did not agree on a specific project.
Meanwhile, sources mentioned that France finances technical cooperation grants and specialized visibility studies, adding that France approved a €1m to finance technical cooperation projects in 2012, adding that Egypt spent well the funds in many projects, which encouraged France to allocate the additional €1m in 2016.
The additional funds for technical cooperation are ready to be spent till 2021, said the sources, adding that the ministry allocated funds for many sectors as housing and agriculture, including a project on modernization a farm-level irrigation project, in collaboration with the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).