World Bank Invests $200 million in Egyptian SMEs, Focuses on Women-Led Projects

The World Bank (WB) has approved the allocation of $200 million for backing entrepreneurship and SMEs in Egypt, giving top priority to women-run projects, the country’s Investment Minister Sahar Nasr said.

It has been widely proven that companies run by women are one of the fastest growing small sized companies, she added.

The Investment Ministry seeks encouraging businesswomen to make investments, as well as empowering women to get funds, Nasr said while addressing a session of the World Bank spring meeting under the theme “A New Economy for the Middle East and North Africa”.

She highlighted the importance of boosting support offered by the bank to the private sector, along with encouraging innovation in the Arab region.

Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) fund plays a key role in supporting women-run projects like “Mastora” project which targets breadwinning mothers, Nasr said, pointing out to the ongoing coordination between her ministry and the SMEs development program.

Meanwhile, World Bank Group Vice President for Middle East and North Africa Ferid Belhaj praised progress achieved by Egypt in the domains of empowering women and supporting SMEs, along with the domain of communication and information technology.

Belhaj also commanded the digital conversion adopted by Egypt’s government bodies along side efforts of the government to turn itself into a digital one through creating a digital participatory environment among state ministries and institutions.

Meanwhile, the two sides asserted the importance of joint regional cooperation with the aim of enhancing the regional economic integration that targets improving the pro-emerging projects business climate.


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Egypt’s Benban Solar Park Set to Become World’s Largest Solar Installation

Benban Solar Park is a photovoltaic power station currently under construction in Benban (around 650 km south of Cairo, Egypt), with a planned total capacity of 1650 MWp, which corresponds to an annual production of approximately 3,8 TWh. Once completed, Benban will be the largest solar installation in the world.

Until recently, Egypt’s government spent more on electricity subsidies than it spent on education, health care, and social welfare combined. But three years ago, officials launched a World Bank Group-supported program designed to reform the power sector and encourage investment from private companies.

Six million solar panels later, the Benban Solar Park—more than 32 contiguous solar projects across 36 square kilometers of Egyptian desert—is poised to become the largest solar installation in the world. It will generate over 2,000 megawatts of power a year, lighting up hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Once operational, Benban is expected to avoid 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the equivalent of taking about 400,000 cars off the road. will create 4,000 jobs in southern Egypt, where unemployment is high, especially among young people.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, spearheaded the financing package, marshalling $653 million in loans from a consortium of nine international banks.

The World Bank supported reforms to Egypt’s electricity sector and provided the country with a $3 billion loan, while the Multilateral Investment and Guarantee Agency (MIGA), another institution of the World Bank Group, provided $210 million worth of political risk insurance to encourage private lenders to invest.

IFC has also been managing the requirements of such a transformational initiative. Its Environmental and Social Performance Standards have guided occupational health and safety measures, transportation risk, labor, solid waste and waste water management, and water management. It has supported the capacity-building of individual sponsors, their contractors and subcontractors, and the company responsible for providing operational services for the park.

For more information about energy in Egypt, click here.


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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].