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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

GERD at the Security Council + Maait on Egypt’s economy and IMF funding

The UN Security Council meeting on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was by far the most widely covered topic on the airwaves last night. Al Kahera Alaan’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 3:24), El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch: runtime: 2:15), and Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 10:15) each recapped Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s speech at the virtual meeting yesterday. We have chapter and verse in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

All signs point to the dispute any resolution to the dispute emerging from the African Union (AU)’s mediation, especially after the AU said on Friday that the dispute is an African problem that should be addressed with African solutions, Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies consultant Hany Raslan told Lamees. That doesn’t mean that Egypt has no recourse if things go awry, though — the dispute could be brought back to the Security Council at any time, Raslan stressed (watch, runtime: 3:20).

Involvement from the AU and the UN are not mutually exclusive, and both bodies have the mandate to step in and mediate the negotiations to help Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan reach a final agreement on the dam, political pundit Abdel Moneim Said told Lamees (watch, runtime: 11:45).

Egypt needs to stand its ground on clearly outlining a dispute resolution mechanism in the final GERD agreement to ensure Ethiopia is held accountable down the line if it tries to take any unilateral action, journalist Emad El Din Adib told El Hekaya host (and his brother) Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 1:04).

Away from Planet Diplomacy, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait sat down with Al Tase’a Masa’an’s Wael Ibrashy for an extensive chat on everything from the government’s growth projections to the proposed VAT Tax Act amendments.

Egypt’s new USD 5.2 bn standby loan agreement with the IMF will be used to help the government finance its reform program and shore up the social safety net, Maait said, stressing that the new funding package will not translate into more financial burden on the average citizen. The fund noted yesterday that Egypt will begin repaying the first USD 2 bn tranche of the loan — which Central Bank of Egypt Deputy Governor Ramy Aboul Naga said should land within the next few days — in September 2023, with each disbursement set to be repaid in eight quarterly instalments.

Other highlights from the interview, which you can watch in full here (runtime: 1:43: 38):

  • The government has disbursed some EGP 61 bn of its EGP 100 bn covid-19 stimulus program;
  • Several companies have put their investments in Egypt on hold because of the pandemic;
  • Egypt had expected to lock in 6% GDP growth during the current fiscal year before the pandemic took its toll on the economy.

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