The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development plans to direct soft loans worth $1 billion over the next three years, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development's director-general Abdulwahab Al-Bader told Zawya in an exclusive interview last week.

Al-Bader said the fund, whose current financial year ends on March 31, will allocate the money for projects in several sectors including electricity, water, transport, communications and irrigation.

“The Fund looks forward to increasing cooperation with Egypt, especially in the implementation of development and service projects in different sectors (in the) coming period,” Al-Bader said.

He said that the board had approved the renewal of loans worth one billion dollars over the next three financial years, and that it had agreed with the Egyptian government which projects would be covered by the programme.

A development programme for Egypt's Sinai province was described as "a top priority", especially for irrigation schemes allowing for agricultural development.

In March 2018, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, signed five agreements with Al Bader worth a total of 86.1 million Kuwaiti dinars ($287 million) within the framework of developing Sinai.

"These agreements represent the first phase of Kuwait's commitment to support the Sinai Peninsula development programme in the amount of (a) $ 1.5 billion loan. Its term is 25 years at an interest rate of 1.5 per cent over five years, started in 2018 and to be completed by 2023, with about $300 million every year,” Al Bader said.

Funding flows

Al Bader said that the five deals agreed last year include four major water desalination plants with the combined capacity to produce 56,000 cubic metres of water per day (m3/d). The project comprises a plant with a capacity of 30,000 cubic metres per day at Sharm el-Sheikh, a 15,000 m3/d plant at Abu Rudeis, a 6,000 m3/d plant at Nabq, Sharm el-Sheikh, and a 5,000 m3/d unit at Taba. The fifth covers infrastructure including seawater intake and outfall, and 38 kilometres of pipework required to distribute water. The projects are set to complete by the end of 2022.

Alongside these, the company is providing a further 25 million dinars for a drainage project in Bahr Al Baqar. It will diver 5 million m3/d of water from three drainage systems at Bahr Al Baqar, Shadr Azam and Om Al Reesh. The water will be treated at a new plant to be built east of the Suez Canal, which will be completed by 2021.

The director-general also said that the Kuwait Fund had financed a total of 50 projects in Egypt since 1964, providing a total of around $3.4 billion to fund agriculture, clean water, electricity, industry and transport schemes.

The Kuwait Fund was set up in 1961 with the aim of assisting Arab nations, but diversified into Africa in 1974, and African counties now benefit from “the lion’s share” of funding, Al-Bader said.

(Reporting by Marwa Abo AlMajd; editing by Michael Fahy)

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