Egypt Supporting reform-minded forces
Since President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi took office in 2014, civil society and those with opposing political views have found their scope for action increasingly limited. Freedom of the press and the work of non-governmental organisations are severely restricted. The state of emergency, under which basic rights guaranteed in the constitution may be restricted, was extended in October 2019 for the tenth consecutive time; it has been in place since April 2017.
The protests in January 2011 were not just directed against an authoritarian regime. From the beginning people were also calling for jobs, affordable food and an end to corruption and nepotism. Egypt continues to face huge challenges when it comes to improving the economic and social situation of its people.
Its political, economic and military significance in the Middle East and North Africa region makes Egypt an important partner for German development cooperation. It is one of the development partners with which the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) cooperates closely on the basis of intergovernmental agreements. Support is primarily being given to reform-minded forces in the government, civil society and the private sector.
Cooperation focuses on the priority areas of energy, water and sustainable economic development. The BMZ is also helping Egypt to carry out measures in the areas of urban development, civil society participation and economic empowerment of women.
German development cooperation with Egypt
The most important aim of Egyptian-German development cooperation is to help improve the living conditions of the general population. Development cooperation with Egypt is based on annual ministerial-level meetings of a "Bilateral Commission" (which have been held since 2016).
In November 2019, the BMZ committed 154 million euros for development cooperation projects in Egypt; of this amount, 65 million euros takes the form of loans.
The priority areas of cooperation are as follows:
- Use and management of water resources / waste management
- Renewable energy and energy efficiency
- Sustainable economic development
In addition, Egyptian-German cooperation addresses areas such as women's empowerment, the development of (pre-existing) informal urban settlements, human rights and administrative reform.
Strengthening civil society, improved governance and support for conflict prevention are cross-cutting topics that are firmly embedded in a number of ongoing projects.
Within the framework of its regional cooperation, the BMZ set up a financing mechanism at KfW Entwicklungsbank in 2011 with the aim of promoting economic development in the Middle East and North Africa. This Fund (called SANAD, which is Arabic for "assistance") provides refinancing for national microfinance institutions so that they can grant loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
Urban development: Helping people to help themselves
In addition to the priority areas for bilateral cooperation that have been agreed with Egypt, Germany is supporting good governance and participation by civil society, for example through neighbourhood development projects.
The main focus here is on poor districts in Cairo. More than half the people in Egypt's capital city live in informal settlements with a very high building density, where there is a significant lack of open spaces, social services, access to drinking water, sanitation and waste collection.
By fostering self-help initiatives, Germany is helping the local inhabitants to come up with their own proposals for improving their lives. Working with local authorities and local people, efforts have already been made to improve the drinking water, sanitation and transport infrastructure. In addition, activities concerned with adaptation to climate change are being carried out with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the EU.