African Development Bank (AfDB) Vice-President responsible for Sectoral Operations, Aly Abou-Sabaa, as head of the major delegation dispatched by the Bank to Sharm el-Sheikh to attend the Egyptian Economic Development Conference (EEDC), addressed a large audience on Day 2 of the event, Saturday, March 14, 2015.
In the presence of the Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, Naglaa El-Ahwany, Abou-Sabaa was speaking as part of a high-level panel of representatives of international financial institutions, on the theme of "How can Egypt's economic development be effectively supported? Views and perspectives".
In addition to the AfDB Vice-President, Jin Yong Cai, Senior Vice-President and CEO, International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank Group; Abdlatif Al-Hamad, Director General and Chairman, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (FADES), Kuwait; Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President, European Investment Bank (EIB); and Hafez Ghanem, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region Vice-President, World Bank, made up this roundtable.
To his peers from international financial institutions (IFIs) and to the entire audience attending the debate – representatives from the public and private sectors – the AfDB Vice-President called for Egypt to be supported in its growth pathway. Emphasising that Egypt is "the second-largest shareholder in the African Development Bank" and that it had undertaken many reforms, Abou-Sabaa said, "We at AfDB are ready to work with the Egyptian Government on the reforms to which it has committed, especially since bold, courageous measures are needed." He went on to speak of the need to ensure "alignment with the Government's priorities" intended to promote inclusive growth.
Abou-Sabaa also referred to the sizeable contracts currently being negotiated in Egypt for large-scale projects. In a reference to public-private partnerships (PPP), a somewhat new mode of financing in Egypt, he said how important it was to learn from experience across the continent – such as the AfDB, which has developed nearly 50 PPPs in Africa since 2006.
To illustrate the support of the AfDB to Egypt, Abou-Sabaa recalled the approximately US $500 million the Bank has committed for 2015 and emphasized the role that could be played by Africa50, the dedicated infrastructure fund targeting the private sector. The AfDB Vice-President also announced that an AfDB delegation would meet Egyptian authorities shortly to discuss the "best way of targeting investments.”
The economic reform programme that the Egyptian authorities launched in July 2014 should bear fruit in 2015, according to projections: Growth should reach 3.3% in 2015, against 2.5% in 2014, and the budget deficit should be 10%, against 12% in 2014.
The EEDC, which opened on Friday, March 13, closed on Sunday, March 15. More than 2,000 leading figures from all over the world – ministers, heads of government, senior officials, leaders of multilateral development banks and financial institutions, CEOs of multinationals, development economics experts, and more – were in attendance. The goal of the international conference was to capture the interest of investors and set out the vision for the future economy of the country.