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Egypt: Shifting Public Funds from Infrastructure to Investing in People

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Egypt has an opportunity to capitalize on current reforms by enabling more private investment in infrastructure and freeing up public funds for investments in people’s education, health and social protection. This is according to a new World Bank report launched today in Cairo,‘’Egypt: Enabling Private Investment and Commercial Financing in Infrastructure’’, which calls for increasing the public funds available for building human capital by expanding successful energy reforms to other key sectors, such as transport, logistics, water and agriculture.

Egypt can learn from global experience and gain by increasing the use of private sector finance, management expertise and innovation in commercial infrastructure and agriculture, conserving public sector resources for where they are needed most”, said Clive Harris, Head for Maximizing Finance for Development for the World Bank.

Egypt is now beginning to reap the benefits of its transformative economic reform program. Macroeconomic stability and market confidence have been largely restored, growth has resumed, fiscal accounts are improving, and the public debt ratio is projected to fall for the first time in a decade.

Egypt has demonstrated that by having a package aimed at reducing economic risks, pursuing sector level reforms and well-prepared bankable projects, large scale foreign and domestic investment can be achieved, This is visible through the  US$ 2 billion invested in the largest solar park in the world, Benban, as well as US$ 13 billion in the Zohr field and other natural gas projects” said Ashish Khanna, Program Leader for Sustainable Development at the World Bank.

The report indicates that the action plan to further enabling private investment requires clear policy actions to resolve four cross cutting barriers to private investment – namely better management of land, transparency in Government procurement, efficiency in state owned enterprise and encouraging long term domestic financing. This needs to be complemented with developing projects for private investments with maximum economic impact, like the regional energy hub, logistics corridors, freight transport and agricultural transformation hubs.

The gains from reforms would also free up scarce public resources and allow for them to be re-allocated to investments in the education and health of Egyptians, the country’s human capital. Reforms in the energy sector provide an example of what is possible. The reform of energy subsidies freed up US$14 billon, reduced the pressure on the national budget and allowed the quadrupling of the investments in social safety net programs.

According to the report, for Egypt to maintain its reform momentum and focus on investing in its citizens, it will need to broaden and deepen its reform agenda to other sectors. This would be part of a fundamental shift away from the state as a provider of employment and output to an enabler of private investment; with the economy driven by a dynamic private sector generating jobs for the youth.

The report identifies four sectors which have huge potential for private investments and illustrates how successfully attracting those investments would generate growth, create jobs and ultimately contribute to developing Egypt’s human capital. The four sectors analyzed in the report are: transport, energy, water and sanitation, and agriculture.

The World Bank provides technical, analytical and financial support to help Egypt reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity. The focus of Bank support includes social safety nets, energy, transport, rural water and sanitation, irrigation, social housing, health care, job creation, and financing for micro and small enterprises. The World Bank currently has a portfolio of 16 projects with a total commitment of US$6.69 billion.

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Energy News

IEA holds Energy Efficiency Training Week in Paris

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Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA's Executive Director (second from right), kicked off the event by stressing the importance of energy efficiency as the first fuel. Photo: IEA

The International Energy Agency is hosting its 11th Energy Efficiency in Emerging Economies Training Week from 20 to 24 May. More than 120 energy efficiency professionals from 40 countries have come together in Paris for the event.

The objective of the training week is to enable participants to learn from leading experts in the field and from each other, strengthening the knowledge and networks needed to meet some of today’s most pressing challenges. The weeklong activities focus on the critical role of energy efficiency in mitigating growing energy demand across all sectors in the world’s fastest‑growing economies.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, kicked off the event by stressing the importance of energy efficiency as the first fuel. “Many of the challenges the world is facing today – climate change, energy security, access to electricity – can be met at a large scale only by implementing the right energy efficiency policies,” he said.

Ambassadors from Brazil, Switzerland and the United Kingdom joined Dr Birol in the open plenary session to share their experiences and support for the training week. His Excellency, Mr. Carlos Márcio Cozendey, Ambassador and Delegate of Brazil to International Economic Organisations in Paris, commended the opportunity that the training week presents. “Energy efficiency will remain very important in Brazil, and international cooperation through the IEA and bilateral cooperation with different countries will be an important part of that,” he said.

Participants are engaged in one of five parallel courses, which focus on energy efficiency in buildings, industry, appliances and equipment, cities, and indicators and evaluation. Experts from the IEA are guiding participants through an interactive agenda, with lectures, discussions, practical exercises, site visits and group activities.

The IEA will host its first Energy Efficiency Training Week for Africa later this year and a specialised training programme on green buildings in Singapore from 16 to 18 July. Please keep an eye on our website for registration opening dates.

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EU Politics

Aviation Strategy for Europe: Commission signs landmark aviation agreements with China

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The European Union and China have today signed an agreement on civil aviation safety and a horizontal aviation agreement to strengthen their aviation cooperation.

The agreements follow up on the EU-China Summit of 9 April and will serve to boost the competitiveness of the EU’s aeronautical sector and enhance overall EU-China aviation relations. This marks yet another key deliverable under the Juncker Commission’s Aviation Strategy for Europe – designed to generate growth for European business, foster innovation and let passengers profit from safer, cleaner and cheaper flights.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “In an increasingly unsettled world, Europe’s partnership with China is more important than ever before. The EU firmly believes that nations working together makes the world a stronger, safer and more prosperous place for all. Today we took a first big step in this direction by signing two aviation agreements with China that will create jobs, boost growth and bring our continents and peoples closer together. Today’s agreements show the potential of our partnership and we should continue on this path of cooperation. For it will always be in unity that we find strength.”

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “China is one of the European Union’s most important strategic partners and we attach a lot of importance to our excellent relations on transport matters. We are mutually interested in better connecting Europe and Asia and making it easier to move goods, services and people between Europe and China. That applies to aviation, too. Today’s agreements will boost the European Union’s trade in aircraft and related products, and ensure the highest levels of air safety.

The main objective of the bilateral civil aviation safety agreement (BASA) is to support worldwide trade in aircraft and related products. This agreement will remove the unnecessary duplication of evaluation and certification activities for aeronautical products by the civil aviation authorities, and therefore reduce costs for the aviation sector. The BASA will also promote cooperation between the EU and China towards a high level of civil aviation safety and environmental compatibility.

The second agreement signed today is a so-called horizontal aviation agreement. It marks China’s recognition of the principle of EU designation, whereby all EU airlines will be able to fly to China from any EU Member State with a bilateral air services agreement with China under which unused traffic rights are available. Up until now, only airlines owned and controlled by a given Member State or its nationals could fly between that Member State and China. The conclusion of a horizontal agreement will thereby bring bilateral air services agreements between China and EU Member States into conformity with EU law – a renewed legal certainty which will be beneficial to airlines on both sides.

Next steps

Both the European Commission and the Chinese transport administration will now proceed with their respective internal procedures to put the conclusion of the agreement in place.

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Environment

World Bank to Strengthen Human Capital and Climate Resilience in Haiti

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today three projects for a total amount of US$162 million in grants to improve the quality of health and education services and strengthen climate resilience in Haiti.

“These three projects address key national priorities to build a better future for all Haitians,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Haiti Country Director. “Access to quality healthcare and education are crucial to break the cycle of poverty and to build a stronger human capital so that Haitian children can reach their full potential. The Bank support will also help build climate resilience in the face of the growing threat of natural hazards by strengthening early warning systems and disaster preparedness in high climate risk areas.”

Globally, Haiti ranks 112th on the World Bank Human Capital Index. A child born today in Haiti will be only 45 percent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she had enjoyed full health and education. Infant mortality in Haiti remains high with 59 death per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality has increased from an estimated 523 per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 646 per 100,000 live births in 2016. Only 40 percent of children are fully vaccinated, which has contributed to outbreaks of preventable diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, and measles.

Similarly, the education outcomes are not very promising. On average Haitian children attend 11.4 years of school by age 18, which is equivalent of 6.3 years of adjusted learning and is the lowest score in the region. In terms of disaster risks, Haiti is highly exposed to hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. Between 1976 and 2012, losses associated with hydro-meteorological events alone were equivalent to almost two percent of annual GDP on average. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew affected over two million people, resulting in over 500 deaths and displaced 175,000 people.

The “Strengthening Primary Health Care and Surveillance in Haiti” project will significantly enhance basic healthcare services for three million people, particularly for pregnant women and children in the South, North West, North-East, Center and Nippes departments. It will strengthen nationwide surveillance capacity and immunization for infectious diseases. The project will also improve the overall coordination among government and international partners in the health sector. The US$70 million project is financed by a US$55 million grant from International Development Association (IDA) and a US$15 million grant from the Global Financing Facility.

The second approved grant for the “Providing an Education of Quality in Haiti” project is to increase enrollment and improve the school learning condition in public and private primary schools in the Southern departments of Haiti. The project will particularly focus on closing the gender gaps in attendance and retention rates.  The support is provided as an additional financing of US$57 million, including a US$39 million grant from IDA and a US$18 million grant from the Global Affairs Canada.

The third project “Strengthening Disaster Risk Management and Climate Resilience” will support the design of a national early warning system and improve emergency response and evacuation capacity of targeted municipalities in high climate risk-prone areas. It will also reinforce infrastructure such as schools and community centers to serve as emergency shelters, provide technical training, and support for strengthening the building codes. The project is financed by a US$35 million grant from IDA.

The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank institution that provides low-interest or interest-free grants and loans to the world’s poorest countries to help them implement projects and programs that stimulate economic growth, contribute to the reduction of poverty and improve the living conditions of the poor.

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