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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Al-Mashat: We Implement Many Programs with Development Partners to Enhance Institutional capabilities of Private Sector


Tue 21 May 2024 | 01:36 PM
Rania Al-Mashat
Rania Al-Mashat
Nada Mustafa

Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, delivered the opening speech during the 1st Edition of the “United Nations Global Compact Annual Forum: Pathways to Sustainable Africa”. This was organized by the Egyptian Network of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGCNE), with the participation of Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Special Envoy on financing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda; Ambassador Christian Berger, EU ambassador in Egypt; Tolulope Lewis Tamoka, the Senior Programme Manager/ Chief Intergovernmental and Africa UN Global Compact for United Nations Global Compact; Elena Panova, UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt; Ayman Ismail, Chairman of the Board, UNGC Network Egypt; Dr. Khaled Al Anany , Former Minister of Tourism, and many experts in the fields of sustainable development, and private sector officials.

The Minister of International Cooperation said that the 1st edition of this forum reflects the close partnership and constructive cooperation between Egypt and the UN.

H.E. explained that since the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, inaugurated the United Nations Global Compact in 1999, he has set ambitious goals to spread the principles of sustainability and social responsibility, as the Charter is considered the largest global initiative for corporate sustainability, seeking to expand the scope of solutions that address global challenges. The charter also calls on private sector institutions to undertake sustainable practices by involving thousands of companies in development efforts in more than 160 countries around the world.

H.E. pointed out that the importance of this forum lies in its role as a multilateral platform from the public and private sectors and international development partners, which makes it a valuable tool for enhancing cooperation and achieving sustainable development goals.

Partnership between Egypt and the United Nations

H.E. noted that the participation of the Ministry of International Cooperation comes in line with its pivotal role in cooperation with the United Nations in Egypt, by co-chairing the Steering Committee for the Egypt - UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2023-2027, which is the mechanism that organizes joint work between various parties and the national bodies on the one hand, and all the agencies, programs and national funds in Egypt on the other hand.

H.E. stated that the UNSDCF was launched last May, after rounds of consultations that extended over two years, and were based on various national strategies and presidential initiatives, to reach the final outcome of the framework that aims to achieve 5 main pillars, which are: Comprehensive economic development; social justice; sustainability of environmental and natural resources; good governance; and empowering women and girls.

Empowering the Private Sector

The Minister stressed that the private sector is one of the main pillars that intersect with the five axes of the strategic framework for partnership with the United Nations, as the only way to achieve these goals is through the effective participation of private sector companies, which support the state’s efforts to increase investment in human capital, developing education and health care services, encouraging business, developing small and medium enterprises, increasing employment rates, encouraging innovation, research and development, improving the business environment, as well as reducing the risks of climate change, supporting institutional capabilities, and empowering women and girls.

She continued that the Ministry of International Cooperation, through partnerships between the United Nations, development partners and international financial institutions, is working to expand the availability of innovative financing tools, concessional financing, direct investment and technical support, which encourages the private sector to participate more broadly and deeply in development efforts to achieve comprehensive and sustainable growth, enabling companies and investors to adopt environmental, social and governance principles (ESG).

Hub for Advisory, Finance & Investment for Enterprises Platform

H.E. said that to enhance the effectiveness of these efforts, the Ministry of International Cooperation launched the Hub for Advisory, Finance & Investment for Enterprises Platform, which works to bridge the information gap and enhance the benefit of private sector companies, whether large, small, medium or emerging companies, from the mechanisms and tools provided by all development partners.

H.E. stated that the private sector has benefited greatly from these financing packages provided by development partners, the size of which has exceeded $10.7 billion since 2020 in the form of capital contributions, soft financing, trade financing, guarantees and other innovative financing tools, which have contributed to supporting important economic sectors such as as manufacturing industries; the infrastructure sector; and the service sector.

Moreover, more than 45% of these financings were benefited by the banking and financial sector, whether in the form of credit lines to banks or contributions to investment funds, which contributed to restoring the flow of financing and its access to smaller entities and emerging companies.

Al-Mashat stated that the Ministry of International Cooperation is cooperating with many development partners to implement technical support projects aimed at strengthening the capabilities of the Egyptian private sector and raising its production efficiency.

Examples of these initiatives include:

The “Trade Development and Export Development in Egypt” project, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aims to increase the volume of Egyptian exports by enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies’ exports and developing the skills and knowledge necessary to export products and services to international markets.

The “Business Advisory Services” program through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which supports companies in Egypt to improve their performance and growth through a range of free or subsidized advisory services.

She pointed out that these two programs contributed to increasing the exports of the beneficiary companies to foreign markets by about $210 million.

In addition to the project “Developing Jobs and the Private Sector in Rural Egypt” in partnership with the International Labor Organization and the Government of Norway, which aims to contribute to rural development, including promoting decent work opportunities, as well as multiple projects and programs in the field of governance with grants worth more than $276 million. Over the course of 4 years, it contributed to supporting the institutional capabilities of companies, enhancing their commitment to environmental, social and sustainability standards, and stimulating trade and investment.

She continued: However, there are still thousands of companies that have not benefited from international partnerships, as a result of an information gap that prevents them from reaching the relevant development partner directly, and this is what the “Hub for Advisory, Finance & Investment for Enterprises Platform” addresses by providing information on more than 85 services; financial and non-financial as well as hundreds of international tenders and opportunities updated daily under a unified platform. H.E. also stressed that there is no way to confront development challenges without international cooperation and effective coordination between relevant parties.

She pointed to government efforts aimed at empowering the private sector, and therefore the Ministry is working on continuous communication with the private sector, to introduce companies to the services provided by the platform and to present various opportunities in order to enhance the link between the private sector and development partners through participation in international and local events and private sector gatherings.

Green transition and addressing climate change

She pointed out that the United Nations Global Compact calls for a pledge and commitment to mitigate the impact of climate change, through partnership between various sectors to accelerate progress towards sustainable development goals and advance the green transformation. Therefore, green finance has become a key element in the strategies of the United Nations and all international financial institutions.

From this standpoint, the Ministry of International Cooperation launched the country platform for the “NWFE” program, which includes 9 projects in the areas of mitigation and adaptation, and is based on a close partnership between the government and private sectors and international financing institutions, with the aim of advancing the green transformation and implementing the National Climate Change Strategy 2050, and Nationally Determined Contributions. The United Nations is a major partner in these efforts.

H.E. pointed to the final statement issued by the round table held last November to launch the first follow-up report of the “NWFE” program, signed by 18 development partners, including the United Nations, where it stressed the importance of the platform as a practical and replicable model for mobilizing climate investments on a large scale in developing and emerging economies. This includes encouraging relevant parties to facilitate access to qualitative and quantitative financing and promote investment in all aspects of the “NWFE” program, through mechanisms to reduce investment risks, cooperate with the private sector, and develop a list of future investable projects.

In addition, consolidating the concept of just financing is a major part of the global commitment to empowering the private sector. Therefore, the Ministry of International Cooperation, along with more than 100 development partners and international institutions, including the United Nations, launched the “Sharm El-Sheikh Guidebook for Just Financing,” which established 12 guiding principles for promoting equitable financing, which stimulates climate finance qualitatively and quantitatively and supports resilient development paths through the key role played by the private sector alongside other relevant parties.

Promote structural reforms

The Minister touched on the measures taken by the government during the past two months to empower the private sector, activate the state ownership policy document, and open the horizons of the private sector, to enhance macroeconomic stability, in implementation of presidential directives, and to enable the Egyptian economy to face the challenges surrounding it.

She said that from this standpoint, work is being done to implement programs to finance development policies and support the budget deficit, in a way that stimulates structural reforms in the country. “We are also currently working with the European Union to develop mechanisms for benefiting from guarantees to encourage private investment worth 1.8 billion euros, which will be presented in detail during the investment conference. Scheduled to be held next June.”