With a population of 355 million and the vast majority of people living in middle-income countries, the MENA region came into the Arab Spring with multiple strengths, including a young and educated population, strong resource base, and economic resilience that helped it weather the 2008/9 global financial crisis.
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World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, Inger Andersen, affirmed support to the people of Egypt and the country's development priorities and underscored the Bank’s com... Show More +mitment to exploring new projects and scaling up existing ones. “Egypt has the potential to become a powerful emerging economy,” said Andersen. “The World Bank Group is committed to supporting the country’s priorities to reduce poverty and achieve shared prosperity.”Andersen’s three-day visit to Egypt included meetings in Cairo with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahleb, Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Naglaa El-Ahwany and senior government officials including Minister of Planning Dr. Ashraf El-Araby; Minister of Investment Mr. Ashraf Salman; Minister of Social Solidarity Mrs. Ghada Wali; Minister of Finance Mr. Hani Qadri Demian; Minister of Industry, Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises Mr. Mounir Fakhry Abdul Nour; and, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Eng. Sherif Ismail.In her meetings, Andersen highlighted the importance of rolling out a well-targeted, efficient and effective social safety net program to meet the urgent needs of the poor and protect them from short-term impact of fuel price increases. In Upper Egypt, Andersen visited two projects focusing on employment creation and service delivery. Moreover, she met with civil society representatives and young leaders to discuss how the Bank can support job creation and improve service delivery especially in lagging regions. “I had an opportunity to engage with a variety of stakeholders in Aswan, including women micro-entrepreneurs and young people, on their opinions about challenges facing Upper Egypt and the kind of interventions needed to create voice, participation and jobs,” said Andersen.During Andersen’s visit, Egypt and the World Bank signed the US$500million Egypt Household Natural Gas Connection Project which was approved recently. The Project will expand access to a safe, more reliable and lower cost energy source for cooking by shifting 1.5 million households from the highly subsidized largely imported LPG cylinders to grid connected natural gas. It will also ensure access to areas where cooking gas is currently in short supply and where households have to pay high prices, including three governorates in Upper Egypt with poverty rates among the highest in the country. “The World Bank is a steadfast and continuous partner of Egypt,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. “I am pleased that this visit comes as we are preparing our new Country Partnership Framework and listening to the development priorities of Egyptians and how the Bank can best support Egypt.” Last June, the World Bank Group launched nation-wide consultations for Country Partnership Framework (CPF) in Cairo, Alexandria and in Aswan and reached out to civil society, youth, academia, and the private sector. The World Bank portfolio in Egypt includes 26 projects for a total commitment of US$5 billion. The World Bank finances projects for faster delivery of benefits to the people of Egypt in key sectors including energy, transport, water and sanitation, agriculture and irrigation as well as health and education. Show Less -
Water loss, and its operational and financial consequences, is a major concern for urban water utilities in the Mediterranean region. Losses, both physical and commercial, are due to leakages and the ... Show More +failure to bill customers for the full amount of water they use. A combination of these two factors puts the financial viability of water utilities at risk.In countries already coping with water scarcity, the burden of water loss often leads to rationing and intermittent supply. As climate change exacerbates the problem—threatening the supply of renewable water and increasing the cost of new water resources—reducing losses from leaky pipes and under-billing, is becoming a priority for water utilities in the Mediterranean and throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.Malta, situated at the very center of the Mediterranean, provides a remarkable illustration of how major water resources challenges can be successfully overcome. The island has one of the lowest rates of renewable water supplies in the MENA region, at 100 m3 per capita per year. It also stands in the top ten countries with the highest population density, alongside Gaza, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Singapore.Several decades ago, Malta became one of the first countries in the region to invest in desalination plants but, in the 1990s, as new plants were being built to meet increasing demand, it became clear that demand for water was fast outstripping its supply.The Water Services Corporation (WSC), Malta’s national water utility, turned its attention to water loss instead, initiating an aggressive program that achieved significant results. In addition to state-of-the-art concepts and technology for monitoring and reducing leakages, the WSC also put in place a program to optimize energy consumption at its desalination plants, reducing average energy consumption from 6-7 to 4.5 kWh/m3. Show Less -