The French Government authorized AFD’s intervention in Egypt in 2004. The Agency started project identifications in 2005. In April 2006, AFD and the Ministry of International Cooperation signed an Framework Agreement, approved by Presidential Decree and ratified by the Parliament; the agreement entered into force in February 2007. Photo © Ed Yourdon
A conference on the economic integration of women and the role of microfinance was organized on the 14th of April 2013 by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the two centers relevant to Al-Azhar University: International Islamic Center for Population Research and Studies and Saleh Kamel Centre for Islamic Economy, in collaboration with the CFERS of Cairo University.
The conference was inaugurated by Dr. Mahmoud Azab, Counsellor of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, His Excellency Nicolas Galey, Ambassador of France in Cairo and Mr. Dov Zerah, Chief Executive Officer of the French Agency for Development, at the conference center of Al Azhar. Dr. Mervat El Talawy, Director of the National Council of Women and Dr. Hala El Said, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science participated also in the inauguration of the event.
The conference was held in four sessions. The role of women in economic development from different perspectives was first presented, then the conference focused on the challenges and barriers to economic integration of the Egyptian woman . As a response to these challenges microfinance tools – traditional, Islamic and innovative – were presented to identify the conditions under which microfinance products and services are adapted to the needs of women. Finally, a session was dedicated to support services and programs specific to the accompaniment of the woman entrepreneur.
The conference brought together experts and development practitioners from Egypt, France, and other countries in the region, who presented case studies and international experiences of women empowerment.
The audience of 150 to 200 people, represents the academic and the enterprise world , micro-business and finance, as well as policy makers. Students from Al-Azhar and other universities were also invited to participate and meet the participating professionals.
Woman plays an important role in social and economic development. Accordingly, it is crucial to shed the light upon the challenges facing her economic integration in the society with a special consideration to the microfinance and its contribution to her economic empowerment. This requires reviewing the successful international and domestic experiences in the microfinance and women entrepreneurship support programs.
Al Azhar and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in cooperation with Center for Economic and Financial Research and Studies (CEFRS) cordially invite you to the conference "Women's Economic Empowerment: Opportunities and Microfinance". It is going to be held on Sunday, April 14th, 2013 from 9:00 am—6:00 pm at Al-Azhar Center for Conferences, Nasr City, Hall “Alfostat”.
The Chief Executive Officer of the French Development Agency (AFD), Mr. Dov Zerah, will undertake on 14 and 15 April 2013 his third visit to Egypt since September 2012, thereby confirming his keen interest in consolidating the activities of the AFD Group in Egypt.
In this regard, the Chief Executive Officer of AFD will hold a discussion with Dr. Ashraf El Araby, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, and will sign an umbrella agreement for a water and waste water programme that the AFD is co-financing up to the tune of 57 million euros along with other European donors.
In addition, Mr. Dov Zerah will meet with Dr. Hatem Abdel Latif, Minister of Transportation, in order to explore new paths of cooperation in the field of transportation, especially urban transit.
Mr. Dov Zerah will also take part – alongside Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, Sheikh of Al-Azhar, and Mr. Nicolas Galey, Ambassador of France to Egypt – in the inauguration of a conference on women’s economic empowerment and the role of microfinance, to be held on 14 April 2013 at the Al-Azhar conference centre. The conference, which is jointly organized by the AFD, Al-Azhar and Cairo University’s Centre for Economic & Financial Research & Studies (CEFRS), will bring together important actors of the Egyptian economic and social scene.
In Alexandria, Mr. Dov Zerah will meet with Mr. Mohammed Atta Abbas, Governor of Alexandria, as well as officials from the Alexandria Passenger Transportation Authority (APTA). AFD had already signed an agreement in November 2012 providing 300 million euros in financial support to the Cairo metro, in coordination with its European partners. This time, Mr. Dov Zerah will sign the contract for the launching of a study on transportation in Alexandria. The goal of this study is to analyse different alternatives in the field of public transport and to assess their degree of feasibility, in order to enable Egyptian authorities to make an informed and rational choice before embarking on the implementation of a mass-transit project in Alexandria.
Mr. Dov Zerah will sign with Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a memorandum of understanding. This memorandum will pave the way for the joint organisation of a conference on sustainable cities during the second half of 2013. The programme of this conference will focus on two or three urban topics, from which a number of projects will be identified that could be subject to further studies, in coordination with Egyptian authorities.
AFD signs the implementing agreement of Phase 3 Line 3 for Cairo metro and AFD’s Action Plan for 2012-2014
In the context of Task Force held in Cairo between Egypt and the European Union, Mr Dov Zerah, Chief Executive Officer of AFD signed on November 14 of the agreement implementing the construction project Phase 3 line 3 of Cairo metro.
's contribution of 300 million Euros is part of a European funding, alongside with the European Union (40 million grant from the Neighborhood Investment Facility) and the European Investment Bank ( 600 million Euros). All resulting a financing of € 940 million equivalent to a loan over 25 years.
In addition, the Chief Executive Office of AFD signed with Dr. Ashraf El Araby, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, the action plan of the AFD in Egypt for the period 2012-2014. The plan includes actions to support in the sectors of 1) job creation and private sector support, 2) improving living conditions in urban areas and 3) the development of agricultural production and improving incomes in urban environment.
since the opening of its office in Cairo in 2007, credit authorizations of about 700 million Euros for Egypt in various sectors, including transport, water and sanitation, business support, energy, etc. In 2012, the Group's share of the AFD in Egypt reach a new level of more than 400 M €.
Task Force of the EU is a new form of European diplomacy, which has as its goal to strengthen the commitment of the EU and the countries in transition through the mobilization of all the assets of the EU and to work with public and private sectors. The Task Force took place on 13 and 14 November in Cairo and was co-chaired by the High Representative Catherine Ashton and the Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Kamel.
JICA, AFD and the Brookings Institution have co-organized a seminar on the Arab Spring entitled "International Support to Arab Economies in Transition: Towards lnclusive Development after the Arab Spring", during which a panel of experts from the development sphere and civil society and government representatives took stock of the situation in post-revolution Arab countries and looked at how to address this context of political transition.
Equality central to development
This seminar was organized following the World Bank Annual Meetings, which were held in Tokyo from 10 to 14 October, and gathered participants including the Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Ashraf El-Sayed El-Araby, and the Chief Executive Officer of AFD, Dov Zerah. In his opening remarks, Akihiko Tanaka, President of JICA, stressed the need to adopt more targeted approaches in order to promote inclusive development [Editor: development which respects human rights and emphasizes equal opportunities, citizen participation and non-discriminatory access to the labor market] in transition countries.
Dov Zerah spoke of the link between demographic transition and democratic transition. The main short-term economic and social challenge in this respect is job creation, particularly for youth, and was the focus of this seminar’s discussions.
Grasp current political dynamics and their underlying aspirations
Two roundtables were held at the seminar. The first, moderated by Hafez Ghanam, from the Brookings Institution, took an approach mainly based on political analysis.
Keiko Sakai, a Japanese political scientist specialized in the Arab world, stressed (metaphorically) that the Arab Spring was “not simply a season following which there would be autumn or winter (…), but a long process during which there is a need to achieve and maintain a national consensus, while ensuring that individual freedoms are respected”.
Indeed, almost two years on from the revolutions, it can be observed that the region is still in a situation of both political and economic instability. What has really changed (or disappeared) today is the fear that the former regimes instilled. It has been replaced by the sense – shared by these populations – of having recovered their dignity thanks to the revolutionary movements.
Reinforce representative institutions
François Burgat, political scientist and Director of the French Institute of the Middle East (IFPO) in Beirut, distinguished two political dynamics: the persistence of autocratic regimes, which must be combated by enhancing the effectiveness of representative institutions – it is a long and still tentative process, but would now appear to be in motion; and the appearance of political forces from the elections which are, admittedly, not those that these countries’ Western partners would have wanted, but which are now key players on the chessboard.
These forces, which are very close to the Islamists, disturb or cause fear, but Westerners now have to take account of the broad spectrum of trends which make up the political fields of these countries, including the most radical. We must learn to interact with them by making the appropriate distinctions between these different Islamic schools of thought.
Finally, the integration of minorities, particularly Christian minorities, who are often marginalized in the enjoyment of their political rights, or even oppressed by the authoritarian powers, is one of the imperatives for the success of democratic processes.
Dov Zérah, Chief Executive Officer of AFD
“Employment”, keyword of the seminar and cornerstone of economic recovery
The second roundtable, moderated by Rémi Genevey, Executive Director of Strategy at AFD, took an approach based more on economic analysis. Jean-Louis Reiffers, economist and Chair of the Mediterranean Institute Scientific Committee, focused his address on the main causes of these social movements. In addition to this lack of democracy, he identified the problems related to food security – noting the constant rise in the price of wheat or oil prior to the social movement –, regional imbalance, inequalities and endemic youth unemployment.
As a response, he proposed to public authorities to focus on the short term in order to avoid having to subsequently make adjustments; to favor opening up at the international level, but especially South-South trade with a view to regional integration, similar to ASEAN; to change the growth model by moving from accumulation to productivity; to opt for endogenous growth (combining quality of work with human capital); and to conduct reforms which favor business growth.
The Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Ashraf El-Sayed El-Araby (right), speaking next to the other panelists (left to right): John Page (Brookings Institution), Shinji Naruo (JICA), Jean-Louis Reiffers (Mediterranean Institute).
Develop social infrastructure and public-private partnerships
Shinji Naruo, an expert from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), who worked at MOPIC for a year, stressed the importance of taking action in the short term by developing social infrastructure and public-private partnerships in order to take advantage of the potential of the private sector.
The Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation focused on the changing views in terms of external financing and Arab communities. He also mentioned the importance of the social policy, which expresses the voice of society, emphasizing the need for more inclusive societies (equal access to food, more, better and more decent jobs, which promote economic and social cohesion).
The keyword of growth is employment and, in this respect, governments must conduct reforms aimed at creating jobs and modernizing the labor market.
Christian Masset, French Ambassador to Japan, wrapped up by mentioning the common values between France, Japan and the Mediterranean, the first being social justice, which creates real potential for cooperation between these 3 countries and areas.
The Deauville Partnership could provide the forum for mobilization, coordination and the emergence of new models for economic growth and development.