Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1417, (8 - 14 November 2018)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1417, (8 - 14 November 2018)

Ahram Weekly

German opportunities

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Germany last week shed light on German appreciation of Egypt’s role in combating terrorism and its success in reforming its economy, writes Aisha Al-Ghoneimy


Egypt and Germany signed a four-year economic cooperation protocol worth 129 million euros divided between economic development initiatives, energy, water-related projects and other youth-targeted schemes last week on the sidelines of president Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s four-day visit to Berlin.

Another memorandum of understanding (MoU) was finalised with the German company Siemens to boost industrialisation, expand vocational training, and enhance the competitiveness of Egypt’s industrial zones in order to increase demand for Egyptian exports in international markets, in particular Germany.

Many forces are driving further convergence in the mutual cooperation between Egypt and Germany in both the political and economic spheres. Close ties with Germany have been retained on the back of Egypt’s prominent role in the African continent and the Middle East over particularly the recent period.

Challenges have been tackled in a diplomatic way, among them halting terrorism and combating illegal migration, two serious threats to peace and security as well as to economic stability not only on the regional level but also internationally. During his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin last week, Al-Sisi underscored Egypt’s success in halting vessels packed with illegal migrants on their way to Europe.

Egypt has made many efforts over the past four years to address the causes of such problems in cooperation with Germany, particularly in the fields of improving security, countering terrorism, halting illegal immigration, working against extremism, all backed by the security cooperation agreement signed between Egypt and Germany in July 2016 as well as the cooperation agreement to combat illegal migration signed with Germany in August 2017.

On the economic front, and in the light of the various economic reforms being undertaken in Egypt, more German investments and aid are being directed to Egypt. Germany is expanding its development operations through investing in infrastructure and renewable energy projects as well as strengthening reform initiatives in public administration and good governance, promoting access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and helping to sustain Egypt’s economic development and generate job opportunities.

The volume of trade between Egypt and Germany increased by five per cent in 2017 to reach 5.814 billion euros compared to 5.568 billion euros in 2016 with the projection of an increasing trend for Egyptian exports to Germany in the upcoming years. Furthermore, German investments are in 20th place in Egypt, with investments amounting to $641.4 million across 1,103 companies working in the chemicals, oil, telecommunications, gas, automotive, iron and steel industries.

However, topping the economic cooperation is the establishment of the world’s largest combined-cycle power plants in record time by Siemens, these being inaugurated by Al-Sisi in July 2018 in the New Administrative Capital, Beni Sweif, and Borollos. These mega-power plants add up to 14.4 GW to Egypt’s national grid in addition to saving over $1 billion annually on fuel costs.

Praising the success on this front, Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, said “there is no place in the world where infrastructure is being developed as quickly as in Egypt” in his address to attendees at the G-20 Africa Investment Summit in Berlin. He praised the commitment of the Egyptian government during the establishment of these power plants and the participation of more than 1,200 Egyptian engineers who trained in Germany.

Moreover, Egypt seeks to promote further cooperation with Germany in the field of digital infrastructure to benefit from Germany’s pioneering expertise in the field and to improve its railway systems. Egypt considers modernising its energy infrastructure and transport system as a top priority for development plans to drive industrial growth and attract foreign investments.

Strengthening trade and investment ties with Germany is an essential cornerstone in improving the productive capacity of Egyptian industries. Germany is one of the largest economies in the European Union, which is Egypt’s main trading partner, and it has extensive experience in technical and vocational training, which will contribute to the provision of qualified technicians to meet the needs of Egyptian industry and serve as an attractive factor for foreign investment.

The writer is a lecturer in the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University.

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