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Monday, 17 January 2022

Last Night’s Talk Shows: Madbouly talks GERD, the military economy + Egyptian-US relations in rare BBC interview

Madbouly talks GERD, the military economy + Egyptian-US relations in rare BBC interview: In a wide-ranging interview, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly sat down with BBC Arabic’s Nouran Sallam to discuss the ongoing dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the military’s role in the economy, and his government’s relationship with the Biden administration (watch, runtime: 24:28).

On GERD: Egypt is not against development anywhere in the Nile basin, but will not accept actions taken by Ethiopia that could restrict our nation’s access to the Nile’s water, the prime minister said. He reiterated the government’s position that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan need to reach a binding agreement over how the hydropower dam will be filled and operated before Addis Ababa fills its reservoir. Ethiopia announced over the weekend that it will begin clearing forests adjacent to the dam next month in preparation for the third filling, which it intends to complete this summer.

On the private sector + the military economy: Madbouly denied that the army is crowding out the private sector, saying instead that the Egyptian economy is dependent on private companies for growth. He brought up the government’s plans to list several military-owned firms on the EGX. The Sovereign Fund of Egypt said last month that it is close to finishing the restructure of bottled water brand Safi and Wataniya Petroleum, which are both owned by the army’s National Service Projects Organization.

(President Abdel Fattah El Sisi sounded a similar note yesterday in remarks at the state-owned Kima complex. State-owned Ahram Online quotes El Sisi as having said “The private sector is welcome to contribute in new projects and factories. I repeat [my invitation] for the fourth time. We need the private sector. We have been proven incompetent in management [of state-owned companies] in the last 40 years.”)

On Egyptian-US relations: The PM said there has been no chill in relations between Cairo and Washington since the Biden administration came into office last year. The strategic partnership remains intact and both countries are committed to strengthening the relationship, he said.

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