31 May 2009
Egypt refused to ink a legal and institutional framework governing the distribution of Nile water between the Nile Basin countries without including a clear-cut clause protecting its historical right to its water quota. The legal framework was scheduled to be ratified during a ministerial meeting of Nile Basin countries in Congo earlier this month, but Egyptian Minister of Water Resources Mohamed Nasr-Eddin Allam refused to sign without including the said provision which directly affects Egypt’s water security. Egypt, which has very scarce rainfall, depends on the Nile for more than 95 per cent of its water needs.
For four days starting today the International Quality and Productivity Centre (IQPC) and the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network will be hosting the Middle East and North Africa Shared Services Summit 2009 in Cairo. The event reflects the increasing importance of the Middle East and North Africa as outsourcing hubs, with governments keen to attract international investment, low labour costs and strong investment in infrastructure. Traditional IT and business process outsourcing BPO hubs such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are becoming less attractive due to varying combinations of high staff turnover, rising costs, saturated infrastructure, as well as issues with intellectual property and language. In a recent report by the London School of Economics, Beyond BRIC, Egypt was seen as the top new hotspot for companies to set up offshoring and outsourcing facilities. Egypt produces 31,000 science, technology and engineering graduates, and 20,000 English speaking graduates every year. Even India is looking to take advantage of Egypt in order to outsource its outsourcing, with India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) signing a memorandum of understanding with Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA).
The World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund will offer Egypt a EGP160 million soft loan to help finance three renewable energy projects: a 200MW power station and networks for the transfer of wind-generated electricity in the Gulf of Suez region. Egypt had been previously granted some EGP50 million to contribute towards establishing the first ever thermal solar station in Kuraimat south of Cairo, with a capacity of 140MW. The tender for the new wind farm has attracted 26 firms. The project developer will be required to design, finance, construct, own and operate the power plant for 20 to 25 years, and would sell the power produced during that period to the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company.
Japan for Egyptian Farmers
Egypt and Japan have signed Exchange of Notes according to which Japan extends to Egypt a grant aid amounting to some EGP28 million for the Assistance of Underprivileged Farmers programme. Under the programme, which began in 1981, Japan has donated 34 floating pumps in Upper Egypt, reconstructed four large regulators on the Bahr Youssef Canal in Lower Egypt, and established two mechanisation centres in the Nile delta. Japanese grants to Egyptian farmers reached some EGP1.8 billion in the fields of water resources and agriculture. The recent grant will be used for projects in Assiut and Sohag in Upper Egypt.
McDonald’s Egypt is opening a series of new restaurants in collaboration with Shell Service Stations, the first of which is a full service restaurant with a drive-thru service at the Shell Service Station in Sheikh Zayed city west of Cairo. McDonald’s plans to open seven stores with Shell in the near future, said Mohamed Mansour, McDonald’s Egypt General Manager.