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Monday, 6 May 2019

World Bank chief says Benban solar park shows commitment to supporting the private sector

World Bank boss points to Benban solar park as evidence of Egypt’s support for the private sector: The 1.6 GW solar power park in Benban, which has so far drawn over USD 2 bn in investment, demonstrates Egypt’s commitment to supporting the private sector, newly-appointed World Bank Group President David Malpass said during a trip yesterday to Aswan. “The key is creating a level playing field for the private sector,” Malpass told reporters during his first international trip since he assumed office. He stressed that strong collaboration between the WB and the Egyptian government is behind the success of the project, which the group recently selected as its top initiative for 2019.

How massive is the massive Benban solar park? Just for context: The flagship project is equivalent in size to around 7,000 football fields, or one-fifth of Washington DC, IFC MENA Vice President Sergio Pimenta noted at the press conference. Nineteen of Benban’s power stations with a capacity of 930 MW have already been linked to the national grid. The feed-in-tariff project will operate at full capacity this year, Investment Minister Sahar Nasr said.

Malpass singles out EGP 1.35 bn Hassan Allam-TAQA Arabia facility: While at Benban, Malpass visited the EGP 1.35 bn, 50 MW solar power plant built by a JV of Hassan Allam Holding and Qalaa Holdings subsidiary TAQA Arabia. The facility was financed in part by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, according to a statement (pdf). Construction of the plant was finished earlier this year; it began producing electricity in February, the statement says.

Looking beyond energy: It’s important to see similar success stories in other sectors of the Egyptian economy and the region, Malpass said, pointing to the transport, agriculture as well as the water and sanitation sectors. In a meeting with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly on Saturday, Malpass had discussed support for Egypt in infrastructure projects, labor force development and for SMEs. The WB president also signed a declaration of intent with SME Development Authority chief Nevine Gamea and visited the Takaful and Karama center in Aswan yesterday.

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