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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Egypt and World Bank sign USD 500 mn education reform loan as Spring Meetings wrap up in DC

Egypt and the World Bank signed yesterday a USD 500 mn loan agreement aimed at supporting the state’s K-12 educational reform strategy. “The five-year project aims to expand access to quality kindergarten for around 500k children, train 500k teachers and education officials, while providing 1.5 mn students and teachers with digital learning resources. In addition, more than 2 mn students will benefit from the new student assessment and examinations system,” the WB said in a statement.

The skills business is looking for: “Fostering skills such as critical thinking, managerial skills and working collaboratively, will usher in a new economy, where learning, innovation, and technology are front and center,” said WB MENA Vice President Hafez Ghanem.

Background: The new system will be implemented as of the new academic year starting in September for kindergarten and students in the first years of primary and secondary education. It’s expected to cost a total USD 2 bn when all is said and done. Education Minister Tarek Shawky had said last week that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had instructed government officials to open talks with the World Bank for a larger USD 1 bn funding package for the reform program. Read our Spotlight on the educational reform plan for a refresher.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings in Washington, DC, which wrapped up on Friday and saw Nasr, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy, and CBE Governor Tarek Amer meet with various state officials and leading figures from the international business community

IMF boss Christine Lagarde showered Egypt with praiseat the gatherings,commending the economic reforms of the last two years, among them the float of the EGP, rebuilding the country’s FX reserves and expansion of the social safety net, which she said have already made an impact, as evident by the levels of increased investment in the country — both foreign and local. The reform program also received praise from World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and the IMF’s Middle East & Central Asia Department Director Jihad Azour.

Nasr and El Garhy also met with a number of US investors to discuss ongoing reforms in Egypt. El Garhy sat down with executives from Merrill Lynch, officials from the Council of Foreign Relations, as well as representatives of rating agencies Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch, according to a Finance Ministry release, with whom he discussed the state IPO program, as well as plans to increase revenues from tax collections and gradually reduce the budget deficit and Egypt’s sovereign debt as a percentage of GDP. Companies such as Mirasco expressed interest in entering the Egyptian market.

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