VENTURES AFRICA – The World Bank has appointed a new country director for Egypt in a sign that it wants its development projects in that country to do well under a centralised management system.
The World Bank administers development projects in Egypt and currently, it is managing a total of 17 projects through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. For these projects, it has committed a total of $3.8 billion.
Hartwig Schafer, the new director, will be based in Cairo. Schafer, a German national, has worked for over 23 years in professional and managerial positions in the World Bank and the European Commission.
Schafer will also manage the banks development projects in Yemen and Djibouti.
Schafer previously held the position of director of operations and strategy in the African region for the World Bank from 2006 to 2008. He was also the World Bank’s country director for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the chief administrative officer for the Africa Region.
In his previous posts, Schafer has helped coordinate projects on climate change, sustainable infrastructure, agriculture and food security. He holds a doctorate in economics, a master’s in agricultural economics and an engineering degree in agriculture.
The projects in Egypt are aimed at helping develop the power, transport, financial, agriculture and social sectors, and at helping improve water, sanitation and the environment.
Meanwhile, the draft law on sukuk (Islamic bonds) will likely be approved by all the relevant institutions, including the Finance Ministry, the Investment Ministry and Al-Azhar, said the newly-appointed Finance Minister Al-Morsy Hegazy.
“The first three chapters of the draft law will be approved in a few days,” Hegazy said during a Cabinet press conference on Monday.
The ministry had prepared an earlier draft law that was rejected by the Islamic Research Academy of Al-Azhar. Later, the Shura Council’s Economic Committee proposed an updated draft law on sukuk.
The Cabinet’s push to issue sukuk has drawn criticism from religious figures and financial scholars alike, although state officials tout the bonds as the way out of the nation’s financial crisis.
Ahmed Mohamed Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank, said the bank is willing to support the sukuk program. The bank has extensive experience in this regard, and all the programs the bank supports are in agreement with Sharia, he said. “The Islamic sukuk will attract investment in Egypt,” Ali said.
Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf al-Araby said that the prime minister has signed five agreements for soft loans worth $388 million with the Islamic Development Bank to finance the South Helwan power plant, the national program for irrigation, the Al-Azhar Teaching Hospital, the vocational training program and various small enterprises.
Loan repayment is over 15 to 20 years, and the bank has so far financed projects in Egypt for a total of $8 billion, Araby said.