As the countdown to COP27 begins, it’s time to review BEBA’s highly successful 2022 Business Mission to the UK, entitled ‘The Road to COP27: Bridging the Implementation and Financing Gap’.
This was the seventh BEBA mission to the UK, with four Egyptian Ministers and four government officials participating in-person along with the Egyptian and British ambassadors. In addition, three Ministers contributed to the mission by recording videos that were played in different sessions. More than 70 delegates from Egypt offered their expertise—from business sectors as diverse as renewable energy, banking and pharmaceuticals.
It was a busy mission with a host of topics on the agenda, with climate policy a signature theme. The event comes in the approach to COP27, to be hosted in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in November.
Subjects discussed during the multi-day mission included the significant environmental, infrastructure and healthcare-related improvements that Egypt has seen in recent years. Also on the docket was the considerable scope for international partnership that these present, both now and moving forward.
Notably, the event highlighted how Egypt is working hard to tackle the global climate emergency in a sustainable and fiscally responsible way.
In preparing for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt will inherit certain key priorities from Britain’s COP26 presidency, including:
This year’s BEBA sessions dealt with many of these issues head-on. The sessions demonstrated how Egypt and Britain are already working together on building future-proof finance and sustainable green infrastructure projects—all in the spirit of Egypt’s Sustainable Development Strategy, known as Egypt Vision 2030.
Speaking to the press during the mission, HE Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister for International Cooperation said that, for her, the priority for COP27 is “moving from pledges to implementation”.
Implementation is, indeed, everything. BEBA’s opening day dealt directly with the demonstrable steps Egypt is taking to implement climate-focussed business strategies, with an emphasis on green financing.This was a two-part event, hosted by PwC at its UK offices in central London, looking first at climate implementation. Virtual contributions were made, by video, from HE Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of Environment and HE Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
There was much to discuss. Minister Sameh Shoukry highlighted the significance of COP27, following the successful outcome of COP26 with the near completion of the Paris Agreement, the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact, and the broad range of pledges from governments and stakeholders. Minister Shoukry reiterated the importance that now is the time for action, to move from text to actual implementation on the ground, and that COP27 will focus on actual implementation.
HE Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment and the Ministerial Coordinator and Envoy of COP27, stressed that COP27 will be the largest event that Egypt has hosted. She insisted on the importance of including different segments of society to participate in the global fight against climate change.
HE Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, stated that as the world aligns its efforts to build back from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change has been pushed to the forefront of the international agenda.
Indeed, Egypt is already taking on the challenge of climate implementation with urgency. In 2015, the country launched its ‘feed-in tariff’ for renewable energy, which led to the development of the Benban Solar Park—one of the world’s largest solar power installations, created through a multi-stakeholder public/private partnership including EBRD and IFC, among other international financial institutions.
Egypt is also home to Gabel El Zeit Wind Farm Complex, the largest wind farm in the MENA region. The complex features the West Bakr Wind project, developed and built by clean energy company Lekela. All of this takes advantage of what Lekela calls Egypt’s “world-class wind resource”.Currently, Egypt generates approximately 6GW of renewable energy, one third of which has been developed through private investment. This constitutes a major contribution to Egypt’s goal of generating 42% of its power through renewables by 2030.
The second part of the PwC-hosted event threw the spotlight onto the green finance innovations Egypt has put into place to help deliver on its climate commitments. This event featured Special Guest Speaker HE Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation.Again, there was much already on the table for discussion. For instance, in 2020 Egypt led the way in the issuance of its Sovereign Green Bonds, standing as the first country in the MENA region to undertake such an initiative. These bonds offer similar returns to traditional investments, but are, as the World Bank describes them, dedicated to connecting “environmental projects with capital markets”.Notably, this strategy was brought about by close collaboration between the Egyptian Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Ministry of the Environment (MoE), which worked together to create a sustainable framework for the bonds’ successful deployment.
The talk of the town are Egypt’s fiscal policies and measures taken to curtail the implications of the economic crisis. The past few years have seen global events that have caused economic turmoil, starting with the USA-China trade war, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the current Russia-Ukraine war. The Egyptian economy did not collapse during the pandemic, however, as it did not take extreme measures and enter into a complete lockdown, and that’s why the country did not have a huge decline in its GDP growth rates.In conversation with Rami Aboul Naga, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Egypt hosted by the National Bank of Egypt (UK)
The talk of the town are Egypt’s fiscal policies and measures taken to curtail the implications of the economic crisis. The past few years have seen global events that have caused economic turmoil, starting with the USA-China trade war, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the current Russia-Ukraine war. The Egyptian economy did not collapse during the pandemic, however, as it did not take extreme measures and enter into a complete lockdown, and that’s why the country did not have a huge decline in its GDP growth rates.
This seminar was, appropriately, delivered in partnership with British International Investment and it dealt with positive ways of leveraging partnerships to drive adaptation and resilience in Egypt.A panel of experts discussed harnessing international partnerships that can result in the creation of clean, green and sustainable infrastructure.This is nothing new to Egypt, where finding ways to make finance greener has been central to its planning for some time. For instance, The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) works to encourage public/private partnerships, with the focus on sustainable development.
This is good news for foreign direct investors. A green Egyptian economy creates an even more diverse array of investment opportunities for businesses looking to expand into the Egyptian market and, beyond that, into the wider Africa continent.
The seminar closed with a recorded video by HE Dr. Hala El Said, Egypt’s Minister of Planning & Economic Development in which she stated that according to reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the warming in Egypt, Africa, and the MENA region are projected to be higher than the global average.
In partnership with the Arab Bankers Association, this session directly addressed issues around Egyptian banking and finance. The keynote speaker was HE Dr. Mohamed Maait, Egypt’s Minister of Finance.Panellists from the government joined private sector business leaders to explore the ongoing transformation in Egypt’s economy—through its robust support of green finance and commitment to significant public/private partnerships. The emphasis remained firmly on the impact climate issues can have on the banking sector and fiscal policies.
Egypt is showing, in the countdown to COP27, that the countries of MENA can build mutually beneficial partnerships that drive smartly financed projects which are economically and environmentally sustainable at the same time.
Egypt takes seriously its role in helping to address the threat climate change presents to the wider African continent. The IPCC’s most recent assessment illustrates, in graphic detail, how the climate emergency isn’t some abstract concept for an ill-defined future. In Africa, it is a present-day reality.
It’s perhaps no surprise then that Egypt’s Vision 2030 strategy closely aligns with the African Union’s Agenda 2063. It is important to Egypt’s future — as well as to its business partners — to take a lead in greening Africa.
This next session on Egypt’s innovations in infrastructure explored what climate-driven infrastructure development means in practice. It was presented in partnership with EBRD and speakers included HE Yehia Zaki, Chairman of the Suez Canal Economic Zone and Ayman Soliman CEO of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt.Projects are turning around fast. For instance, faced with the challenge of water scarcity, Egypt is looking to private investment to help build an infrastructure of solar-powered desalination plants.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s population is growing exponentially— from 68 million in 2000 to more than 100 million today. As that population becomes increasingly urban, this throws up a range of challenges which, in turn, provide significant private sector investment opportunities in key infrastructure projects. One such infrastructure project is already on the rails, quite literally—namely, the Cairo monorail project. Moreover, Egypt is implementing an infrastructure plan which is staggering in its ambition: the decision to build 45 new cities. These cities—like the already completed 6th of October City – will be designed with a view to signing up for EBRD’s Green Cities programme, ensuring that they will provide new homes and new employment for Egypt’s growing population, in a sustainable way.
Of course, a growing population also brings with it a need for healthcare, which Egypt is addressing proactively, as was demonstrated in the next session.
The closing session of BEBA’s business mission was hosted by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce and dealt with Egypt’s drive towards Universal Healthcare Coverage. The panel of experts and dignitaries was headed by HE Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Egypt’s Minister of Health.
Part of Egypt’s Vision 2030 commitment is to develop universal healthcare for its growing population. This will offer up various opportunities for inward investment across services and expertise, as Egypt will need to expand both medical facilities and medical practitioners as well as medical devices and pharmaceutical supplies.
Egypt is already well positioned to take a leadership role in the MENA region, as a dominant manufacturer of pharmaceuticals. Indeed, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has stated that around 80% of Egypt’s pharmaceutical demands are already produced locally. It is just a short step to becoming a major exporter — potentially opening-up the entire African continent to Egypt’s business partners.
Major General Dr. Bahaa El-Din Zidan, Chairman of the Egyptian Unified Procurement Authority, stressed the importance of Egypt hosting the first edition of Africa Health ExCon, which aims at advancing Africa’s healthcare investments.
The African nations understand that, when it comes to tackling climate change, the clock is running. This isn’t something to think about another day — it’s something to act on today.Egypt knows this and has moved past the pledges to the active implementation of the commitments it (and 195 other parties) made in The Paris Agreement at COP21, by taking significant strides in planning, financing and delivering on a green economy and green infrastructure in a sustainable future-focused way.
As Egypt plans to demonstrate at COP27, such promises and plans, put properly and sustainably into action, are the way forward for all nations already facing the stark reality of the climate emergency. In turn, this will generate continued and material opportunities for foreign direct investment. The conditions for these investment opportunities were thoroughly explored during BEBA’s seventh annual business mission to the UK.
Credit where it’s due. The 2022 BEBA Mission to London was brought to you in association with these generous sponsors:
Knowledge Partner: N Gage Consulting
Egypt is leading the world in developing strategies to create sustainable green infrastructure. Crucially, it is doing this by encouraging inward investment with partners from the UK and beyond, to ensure these green infrastructure ambitions can be realised at pace.This isn’t happening by accident. It has been brought about by decisive leadership and an inspired approach to public/private partnerships, particularly (but not limited to) Egypt’s energy diversification plan known as the 2035 Integrated Sustainable Energy Strategy.
As Egypt prepares to host COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh later this year, renewable energy generation is a key component of its planning for green infrastructure — a topic widely discussed at BEBA’s 2022 UK Business Mission in London.
While renewable energy is an essential part of Egypt’s green infrastructure strategy, it isn’t the whole story.
Concerted efforts at greening national spending have played a prominent role. A major goal of Egypt’s Environment Sustainability Criteria introduced in 2019 is ensuring that 15% of government investment goes to green projects, rising to 50% by 2025.
National investment is only one side of the coin. When it comes to inward investment, The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) was established in 2018 to create a favourable landscape for public/private partnerships that maximises the value and efficiency of sustainable development. Egypt is in good company here, with TSFE joining around 18 other sovereign funds worldwide to form the One Planet Initiative.
Perhaps, however, one of the most pioneering steps the Egyptian government has taken to support green infrastructure is in its issuance of sovereign green bonds in 2020. Egypt was the first country in the MENA region to take this step. You can read more about this transformative development here.
As a country with expanses of undeveloped land, combined with high wind speeds and an average of more than nine hours of sunshine every day, Egypt is well-positioned to power its green infrastructure with equally green energy. For example:
Benban Solar ParkIn 2015, Egypt launched its ‘feed-in tariff’ for renewable energy. This encouraged the development of the Benban Solar Park, near Aswan in the Western Desert.
Completed in 2019, the 37km2 park was established through a multi-stakeholder public/private partnership including EBRD and IFC among other international financial institutions. As British International Investment reports, Benban is now among the largest solar power installations in the world, comprising a total of 32 solar plants and four substations, with up to 1.65GW capacity.
Gabel El Zeit Wind Farm ComplexEgypt is home of the largest wind farm in the MENA region. The Gulf of Zeit complex has 300 turbines covering 100km2, with a generating capacity of 580MW and producing about 3TWh in three years’ production.
Like Benban, the project began development in 2015 and was connected to the national grid in November 2018.
An important addition to this is the West Bakr Wind project, developed and built by clean energy company Lekela, which takes advantage of what Lekela refers to as Egypt’s “world-class wind resource” to produce 252MW of clean, reliable power.
Lekela’s first turbine was installed on time in late 2020 and the farm went into commercial operation in 2021, demonstrating Egypt’s determination to make these green infrastructure projects a reality. The project also reveals the speed with which Egypt’s business partners can begin to make a difference.
National Hydrogen StrategyEgypt is highly committed to the development of its National Hydrogen Strategy as an alternative source of energy. As the Middle East Institute reports, EBRD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to offer guidance to Egypt in developing a low-carbon, green hydrogen strategy for production and export. The official announcement of this strategy is expected in time for COP27, which Egypt will be hosting in November.
So far, initiatives such as these are paying off. As the US International Trade Administration reports, Egypt is making solid progress against its goal of generating 20% of its supply of electricity from renewable sources by this year, with a commitment to raise that figure to 42% by 2035 — a target which may, in turn, be further increased to 55% as momentum builds in favour of clean energy.
As Egypt’s population grows — from 68 million people in 2000 to a staggering 102 million by 2020 — and becomes more urbanised, the issue of transportation is growing in importance.To help prevent congestion and alleviate the attendant pollution, Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels awarded a USD 4.5bn contract to UK Export Finance (UKEF) — a consortium led by Bombardier Transportation (now part of Alstom), to design and build a monorail system for Cairo, then to operate and maintain the two new monorail lines for 30 years.As this video demonstrates, the new rail network will connect Cairo to the New Administrative Capital in the east, whilst also connecting 6th of October City to Giza in the west. Running more than 50 miles in total, this will make it the world’s longest monorail, with trains running up to 80 km/h, whilst producing zero emissions and virtually no noise.You could argue that this monorail also connects Egypt to Britain, given that Alstom’s Innovia 300 trains are being built in Derby and shipped to Egypt.
Possibly the most impressive examples of green infrastructure in Egypt are its cities. To deal with its growing population (forecast to expand to at least 159 million people by the middle of this century) Egypt has announced an ambitious programme to build no fewer than 45 new cities. These will include the city of Suez, the city of Ras Al-Hikma and the city of El-Alamein.As reported by the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, Egypt has signed-up to EBRD’s flagship Green Cities programme.To that end, the new 6th of October City has been accepted into the programme, as have the ancient, but modernised, cities of Cairo and Alexandria.This demonstrates the hard work Egypt has already put into ensuring its green infrastructure is as sustainable as possible, to deliver on the better life for all Egyptians that is promised in Egypt’s Vision 2030.
Egypt’s determination to uplift the entire nation — through green financing, its commitment to universal healthcare and its root-and-branch reappraisal of its green infrastructure — are all opportunities to strike up productive and mutually-beneficial partnerships with global businesses looking to help sustainably remodel a nation fit for the challenges of the 21st century.
As COP27 approaches, learn more about BEBA’s important work and explore a range of topics relating to Egypt’s ongoing transformation as discussed at the UK Business Mission in May.
Egypt’s healthcare system is undergoing a period of rapid transformation, creating major opportunities for investment. A key driver behind this change is the Egyptian government’s commitment to implementing Universal Healthcare Coverage on behalf of its fast-growing population by 2030.
From increased provision of hospital beds to expanded investment in medical personnel and technology, healthcare in Egypt is poised for far-reaching development. At the heart of this healthcare transformation are public-private partnerships, which play a critical role.
As Egypt prepares to host COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in November, the conversation around Egyptian healthcare infrastructure is heating up. One key forum in the run-up to COP is BEBA’s UK Business Mission, where UK-Egyptian ministers and industry leaders will gather in London to discuss the practicalities and investment opportunities surrounding Egypt’s drive toward Universal Healthcare Coverage.
To understand the opportunities at play within the Egyptian healthcare system, it’s impossible to overstate the impact of demographic change.
For one, Egyptians are living longer, with average life expectancy increasing almost six years to 72.5 years since the turn of the century. While these advances in longevity are to be celebrated, they also accelerate demand for Egyptian healthcare services.
It is not simply increased longevity at play, though. An exploding population — from 68 million people in 2000 to approximately 102 million by 2020, primarily driven by an increased birth rate and sharp declines in child mortality — is adding urgency to the mix. By 2050, the population is projected to reach anywhere in the region of 150-190 million, an astonishing rate of growth.
These major demographic changes have galvanized political leadership around Egypt’s goal of achieving Universal Healthcare Coverage by 2030.
Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC), as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), requires “that all people have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship”. About 100 million people worldwide are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of out-of-pocket spending on healthcare, according to the WHO.
Healthcare services in Egypt are currently operated and financed by a pluralistic network of public and private providers across the governmental, parastatal and private sectors, overseen by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP).
The parastatal sector comprises quasi-governmental organisations such as the Health Insurance Organization (HIO) and the Curative Care Organization (CCO). HIO presently covers about 60% of the population, with basic coverage to employees, students, and widows through its system of hospitals and clinics. CCO offers inpatient and outpatient care through private provision. Meanwhile, Egypt’s public healthcare system contends with long-standing challenges of underfunding, variability in service quality, and high out-of-pocket payments.
Together, it is a patchwork of systems that Egypt’s national strategy is seeking to address, and which prompted the passing of the Universal Health Insurance Law in 2018. The law seeks to restructure Egypt’s healthcare provision by providing affordable Universal Healthcare Coverage for all, in line with the health pillar of Egypt’s Vision 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy.
For its part, the international community has welcomed Egypt’s efforts. Notably, in 2020 the World Bank provided 400 million USD in support of the nation’s move toward universal health insurance.
Without underestimating the challenges ahead and the need for sustained investment, early signs of progress are evident:
Chronic Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) was a major problem in Egypt until only recently. “In 2015, an infection prevalence of 7% among adults was among the highest in the world and accounted for 7.6% of the country’s mortality”, according to a 2021 research paper led by Ahmed Hassanin of New York Medical College.
In response, Egypt began a concerted screening and treatment programme. It screened more than 50 million people and treated more than 4 million of them for HCV. Consequently, it is “poised to be the first country in the world to eliminate HCV within its borders”, the report authors state.
As part of the Egyptian state’s focus on maintaining healthy households, President Sisi launched the Egyptian Women’s Health Initiative, designed to screen 28 million women for breast cancer and provide free-of-charge treatment where needed.Reproductive health, family planning, and preventative healthcare are also central to the initiative, supported by joint ventures with international partners such as Canada.
Improving the quality of healthcare in remote areas as well as larger urban centres is an important commitment of the Egyptian government.
President Sisi’s ‘Haya Karima’ (‘Decent Life’) initiative — the subject of international praise — has seen large numbers of medical convoys travelling out to remote parts of Egypt to deliver a wide range of medical services including paediatrics, dentistry, ophthalmology, and other specialisms.Child Mortality
One of the key indicators of a nation’s health strategy is how it supports its most vulnerable, starting with its youngest. Data gathered by both UNICEF and the World Bank indicate that, in 2000, the mortality rate among under-fives in Egypt stood at approximately 47 children per 1,000 live births. By 2020, that number fell below 20 deaths per 1,000 births.
While there is still much progress to be made, the improvement in child mortality is a welcome step in the right direction.
The need for healthcare investment cuts across the range — from medical staffing and facilities infrastructure to the provision of medical devices and pharmaceutical supply.
The situation is highly interdependent. The population explosion will surge demand for neonatal and paediatric services. Meanwhile, the uptick in hospital building across Egypt will require an increase in the number of trained medical practitioners available to work in them.
There is certainly catchup to do on staffing. “According to World Bank figures, in 2018 Egypt had an estimated 0.45 physicians per 1000 people, well below the organisation’s estimate of 1.3 for the entire MENA region”, the Oxford Business Group reports.
While steps have been taken to accelerate the traditional ‘Takleef’ system, whereby doctors spend two years in general practice (with an emphasis on underserved populations) before they can specialise, nobody doubts that more needs to be done.
Similarly, as more people gain access to treatment and more medical professionals are available to administer treatment, opportunities for pharmaceutical development will grow.
Pharmaceutical sales have already risen from 2.3 billion USD in 2017 and are expected to reach 5.2 billion USD by 2028. The MoHP has stated that around 80% of pharmaceuticals are produced locally, positioning Egypt to become the leading manufacturer and exporter in the MENA region.
The drive towards Universal Healthcare Coverage produces a burgeoning range of investment and business opportunities in the Egyptian healthcare marketplace. Many of these partnerships will be on full display at the forthcoming Africa Health ExCon, to be held in Cairo in early June.
“We forecast the number of bilateral trade agreements and strategic partnerships to increase over 2022 and beyond. This will provide growing opportunities for multinational pharmaceutical firms to expand their presence in Egypt,” wrote analysts at Fitch Solutions in a recent report.
No one is suggesting that Universal Healthcare Coverage will not require serious funding. England’s Department for Health and Social Care budget for 2020/21 was £190.3 billion – or approximately 10% of GDP. Meanwhile, France’s Universal Healthcare Coverage, which has long been considered among the best in the world, presently costs the nation around 11% of GDP. Egypt’s expenditure currently hovers around 5%.
Nonetheless, the direction of travel for Egypt is clear, and the strategic policy measures in place set the stage for continued investment in the provision of healthcare goods, services, and training. While much has been done in the drive towards Universal Healthcare Coverage, there is much still to do.
Hear from top ministers and leading UK-Egyptian industry executives as they explore the challenges and investment opportunities relating to Egypt’s healthcare expansion.
Learn more about BEBA and the UK Business Mission on the dedicated Mission page, and check out the event programme for the full list of sessions.