Kuwait Investing $2.5 Billion in Numerous Egyptian Companies

Article Summary
Egypt and Kuwait are moving ahead with joint economic projects in energy production, tourism and cement factories, among other areas. Egyptian ministers have unveiled ambitious plans to boost infrastructure and trade with Kuwait, while the country’s tourism sector is seeking to expand with flights to Turkey. Hala Amer reports.

Egyptian Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Said said that the government wants to resolve all the problems facing Kuwaiti investments [in Egypt]. Kuwait is investing about $2.5 billion in the Egyptian economy, making it one of the biggest Arab investors there.

The minister said that he has put in place a road map to deal with these problems, especially the one related to the land allocated to some Kuwaiti investment firms. He promised that the authorities will soon decide on these issues while making sure that the treasury is not harmed.

Said chaired a meeting of the Egyptian-Kuwaiti committee at the government seat in Cairo. Present at the meeting were the Kuwaiti ambassador in Cairo, the Kuwaiti Finance Minister Sheikh Nayif Fallah al-Hajraf, the Egyptian ministers of investment, planning, international cooperation, electricity and tourism, as well as representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, oil, industry, housing, agriculture, and the social fund for development.

Said said that the meeting discussed the available investment opportunities in the economic sectors — including 15 projects that the government wanted to undertake in cooperation with the private sector — besides the opportunities at the ministries of investment, housing, electricity, tourism, oil and agriculture.

He said that the oil ministry had requested that the Kuwaiti Ministry of Finance exempt Egypt from submitting letters of credit when buying oil from Kuwait as well as increasing the quantity shipped from 1.5 to 2 million barrels per month.

Al-Hajraf said that his country was keen to support Egypt during its current crisis. He said that the meeting sought to identify Egypt’s needs in the short- and medium-terms and to identify priority projects to which Kuwait can contribute. He referred to an agreement whereby Kuwait is provided a list of projects that the Egyptian government is studying.

Egyptian Minister of Investments Osama Saleh said that the Egyptian transition made the economic issue very important and that the Egyptian government wanted to attract more investments to provide jobs for young people. He said that Kuwaiti businessmen have contributed to 862 companies operating in Egypt. These companies have $2.5 billion in cash and are worth more than three times that figure.

Developing the provinces

Saleh said that the government will focus on three objectives in the coming period. The first is to develop the provinces. There are 128 projects in 27 governorates ready for immediate implementation. The second is the partnership project undertaken by the Ministry of Finance. The third is about developing Egypt over the next 30 years. Saleh said that one of the most important projects is to develop the Suez Canal, through which 9% of the world’s [shipping traffic] passes. There are also plans to build a large industrial city over an area of 40 square kilometers, establish new ports, and a railway tunnel linking the Sinai to [the rest of Egypt].

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Ashraf al-Arabi, said that the Kuwaiti Fund for Development [had been] a key Egyptian partner for 60 years and that the two countries signed 35 loan agreements worth $2 billion from the fund.

He said that those loans had a big economic effect — especially on electricity — and he pointed out that the last agreement between [Egypt and Kuwait] was to finance the second phase of the Helwan power plant for 30 million Kuwaiti dinars.

He added that in two weeks a $61 million loan agreement will be signed to finance the expansion of gas networks in the provinces of Cairo and Giza.

The Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Energy, Mahmoud Balba, said that Egypt produces about 30,000 megawatts of electricity per day, a daily amount which increases by 3000 megawatts every year. He pointed out that the Ministry of Electricity is planning to build new power plants to replace those that are more than 40 years old.

Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou said that his ministry succeeded in resolving the problems of Kuwaiti investors working in the Egyptian tourism sector and that the government wants to support the tourism sector, which is a basic pillar of the Egyptian economy.

He also announced an agreement with Turkey to market tourist locations and start direct flights from Istanbul to Sharm el-Sheikh at a rate of three flights a week starting Oct. 9, and flights between Istanbul and al-Ghardaqa at a rate of four flights a week starting Oct. 17. He pointed out that these trips were already 60% booked.

Industrial Development Authority Chairman Ismail al-Nagdi discussed the possibility of Kuwait obtaining licenses for cement plants as there are plans to create 14 new plants for the production of cement in the country. He said that he will announce the issuance of these licenses in two weeks.

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