Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egypt bags over $19 billion in investments on summit opening day | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55342322

Arab leaders at the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh. (SPA)

Arab leaders at the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh. (SPA)

Arab leaders at the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh. (SPA)

Sharm El-Sheikh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi outlined Cairo’s long-term development strategy in his address to the Egypt Economic Development Conference on Friday as media reports confirmed that Egypt had secured more than 19 billion US dollars in investment pledges on the first day of the summit.

Sisi announced that Egypt is aiming for economic growth of 6 percent over the next five years and a decrease in the unemployment rate to 10 percent over the same period.

“The march of Egypt to the future will continue . . . Egypt is open to the whole world,” Sisi said, calling for greater international investment in the North African state.

“We are committed to moving forward with the development and modernization of the Egyptian economy,” he told investors, highlighting the package of investment reforms that has recently been announced by his government.

Egypt’s closest Gulf Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, pledged a combined 12 billion US dollars in investment at the Sharm El-Sheikh conference on Friday.

Each Gulf state pledged 4 billion US dollars. The UAE announced that it would deposit 2 billion US dollars in Egypt’s central bank, with the remaining 2 billion US dollars being invested directly in the Egyptian economy. Saudi Arabia said that 2 billion US dollars of its pledge would be deposited in the central bank, while the remainder would be distributed as development aid, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). Kuwait, for its part, did not announce how its country’s pledge would be divided.

The Saudi pledge was made by Crown Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz who is heading Riyadh’s delegation to the three-day conference.

In comments made on his arrival in Sharm El-Sheikh, Prince Muqrin highlighted Riyadh’s “permanent and continuous stand” with Egypt.

He said that his visit to the Egypt Economic Development Conference highlights the “historical close ties between the two countries and confirms the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s stance in support of development and stability in Egypt.”

He added that Riyadh is committed to enhancing the bilateral ties between the two countries in the coming period, particularly praising Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s leadership.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz is confident in the wisdom of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and this will have the greatest impact on the success of this conference to promote the march of the Egyptian economy,” he said in comments carried by the SPA.

Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We are seeking to support the implementation of the [financial] assistance that was announced by the Crown Prince.”

“The priorities for the support of the Egyptian economy will be determined by the desire of our brothers in Egypt,” he added.

“We are also seeking to contribute to development projects [in Egypt], in addition to financing Saudi exports to Egypt and investing in the private sector,” he said.

A number of public and private sector companies have already announced major investments in Egypt. British oil company BP announced on Saturday, the second day of the conference, that it has finalized a 12 billion US dollar deal with Egypt to develop 5 trillion cubic feet of gas resources and 55 million barrels of condensates in the West Nile Delta, according to a Reuters report.

Egypt also signed a number of memoranda of understanding with foreign states and companies worth tens of billions of dollars. Cairo signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power International and the UAE’s Maadar Company to construct a number of power plants, including solar and wind farms, worth approximately 10 billion US dollars.

Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy also signed four memoranda of understanding with Siemens International worth approximately 10 billion US dollars to construct several “conventional” power plants.

Egypt is undergoing its worst energy crisis in decades and Cairo is seeking to strengthen its energy sector, recently pushing through a new electricity law which privatizes electricity production and transmission.

The law limits the state’s role in the electricity sector to regulation and supervision with the goal of creating competitiveness within the private sector and driving prices down.

Reporting by Sawsan Abu Hussain and Ahmed Ghamrawi.