On Wednesday, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat reinforced the importance of sustainable and inclusive economic recovery during the World Bank and International Monetary Fund‘s (IMF) Annual Spring Meetings, Opening Session
While the pandemic led to unprecedented global health and economic challenges, the recovery process is the road that every country is taking to find efficient and sustainable economic frameworks to establish a green and inclusive global economic system.
Through international partnerships, multilateral and bilateral cooperation, and private sector engagement, the local and global recovery is tied to the three broad lenses that the World Bank meetings discussed: sustainability, resilience and inclusivity.
“Resilience, agility and innovation are the keywords for surviving turbulences caused by global challenges,” said Al-Mashat during the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Spring Meetings Opening Session, in the panel titled “Economic Recovery: Towards a Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Future.”
The Annual Spring Meetings, running from April 5 to 11, included opening remarks by World Bank President David Malpass, and interventions from the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen and IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, and was also attended by the Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates.
The discussion with Al-Mashat tackled the needs and requirements to support a faster and deeper economic recovery laying a foundation for a more sustainable and inclusive global economic system, alongside Founder and CEO of Frontier Markets, Ajaita Shah; and Chief Executive for Africa Regions in Standard Bank Group, Sola David Borha. Moderated by the North America Correspondent for the BBC, Larry Madowo, the panelists looked into several topics including policy reforms to support economic recovery, inclusivity, and the impact of digital technology in economic growth and in increasing job opportunities. It also included private sector voices from large and small firms on the global level.
Al-Mashat explained that the main, and key ingredients, to foster a culture of innovation is through people, processes, and technology. As innovation is a critical aspect of resilience, Egypt is putting the country’s digital plans at the forefront of the development framework across all sectors; starting with education.
Under Egypt’s “Education 2.0”, in collaboration with the World Bank, the Ministries of International Cooperation and Education and Technical Education are raising a resilient and tech-savvy generation able to provide the Egyptian market with a new tier of employees for the digital future; ready to take on the “jobs of tomorrow”.
Al-Mashat expressed that digital reskilling is a necessary policy discussion for all governments to have with the private sector and its development partners. “Before the pandemic, the discussion revolved around whether technology can change the future of jobs but today, we see that technology can strengthen the economy through innovation and startups,” she said.
“When thinking about the power of data, technology is a tool that bridges the knowledge gap in a new way. It helps us better prepare for crises and to co-create and respond differently with innovation,” said Founder and CEO of Frontier Markets, Ajaita Shah.
Minister Al-Mashat elaborated that the pandemic re-emphasized that social inclusion, health and education are all priorities, alongside the fact that no one is alone at times of global crises. What impacts one country, will impact others. “The ‘leave no one behind’ framework only works if we all collaborate collectively at all stages,” said Al-Mashat. Through global partnerships and public-private dialogue, all stakeholders need to work collectively to weather challenges and push towards sustainability targets.
“2021 is about both private sector engagement and green reform. Environmentally conscious investments are finding their way into the spotlight, which pushes for a green recovery on a global and national level. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles are now the rules that all governments and companies must follow,” the Minister added.
In 2020, Egypt also sold $750 million in green bonds in September in what was the region’s first sovereign offering of climate-friendly securities. The issuance was almost 5 times oversubscribed, attracting some $3.7 billion worth of orders for the bonds, pointing to growing appetites for sustainable securities worldwide.
Through the Ministry of International Cooperation’s principles of Economic Diplomacy, $9.8 billion in development financing was secured in 2020, despite the development financing gap caused by the pandemic. Moreover, through Egypt’s homegrown reform program with the IMF that extended between 2016 and 2019 and renewed in 2020, the country was able to cushion the sosoci-economic effects of the pandemic.
The Ministry of International Cooperation and the World Bank share a portfolio of $5.39 billion encompassing transportation, education, social safety nets, and MSMEs. The Ministry and IFC share a portfolio of $1.27 billion, focusing on the development of private entities in agriculture, finance, infrastructure, renewable energy, industry, and technology.