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 -