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Egypt, international institutions discuss $2bn loan for ‘transport development’

Egyptian pounds [emi moriya/Flickr]

Egypt is negotiating a $2 billion loan agreement with some international financial institutions to finance the development of the transport sector in the coming period, the country’s transport minister, Kamel Al-Wazir, announced yesterday.

In an official statement, Al-Wazir said that the funds aimed to “support the country’s various transport projects.”

“The ministry has put together a comprehensive plan for Egypt’s transport sector development, including the development of the national railways, metro, roads and maritime projects,” he pointed out, adding that the sector renovation would be implemented in accordance to “the international standards.”

Under the plan, the minister noted, that the national railway system would be completely renovated by mid-2020.

The Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, recently announced that the country had received a total of $4.5 billion from international institutions for the transport sector development, explaining that $1.6 billion of the funds had already been withdrawn.

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“Egypt’s transport sector has received around $153 million in the form of grants,” she pointed out.

In February, Cairo’s major railway station saw a tragic incident after a fire had erupted at the station, leaving at least b25 killed and 50 others injured. The state-run National Railway Authority later reported that the blaze was triggered by a high-speed train colliding with a concrete buffer stop at the main station in downtown Cairo.

The crash sparked a wave of anger across social media networks, with Egyptian activists slamming Egypt’s poor infrastructure. The incident had also prompted the former transport minister, Hisham Arafat, to resign.

Egypt has been negotiating billions of dollars in aid from various lenders to help revive an economy battered by political upheaval since the 2011 revolution and to ease a dollar shortage that has crippled import activity and hampered recovery. According to the central bank’s official data, Egypt’s external debt increased by 15 per cent in September 2018, reaching $93.130 billion, compared to $80.831 during the same period of 2017.

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