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France to invest €3.8b in Egypt projects

French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire arrives for a ministers’ meeting at the Interior ministry in Paris, on January 6, 2020. — AFP pic

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CAIRO, June 13 — French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire today signed agreements with Egypt to invest €3.8 billion (RM18.9 billion) in the most populous Arab country’s public transport and renewable energy sectors.

France will finance Egyptian projects with French companies to the tune of €1.8 billion.

The first tranche will be for transport giant Alstom to supply 55 underground trains for Cairo Metro’s Line 1, for a total of €800 million financed by a loan from the Treasury. 

The line used by over a million commuters daily has dilapidated carriages that are over three decades old.

Nine other projects are included in the intergovernmental agreement.

They will be financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) to the tune of one billion euros between 2021 and 2025.

With the billions in financing, Egypt has become “a strategic economic partner of France… It is the top country in terms of loans from the Treasury,” said the visiting French minister.

Cooperation has been expanded to cover renewable energy, water purification and public transport as well funding for universities and social safety nets, Le Maire told reporters in Cairo.

Cairo, with a population of over 20 million renowned for its gridlocked roads, suffers from a dire lack of safe and efficient public transport.

The Metro has three lines which are currently being extended and three other connecting lines are expected to be built.

Egypt has been one of France’s biggest arms clients since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power in 2014.

In May, Egypt purchased 30 Rafale jets worth €3.75 billion.

In December, French President Emmanuel Macron awarded Sisi the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, the country’s highest award, sparking outrage among human rights critics. — AFP

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