The French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, signed on Sunday in Cairo a series of agreements for the financing of development projects in Egypt, to the tune of 3.8 billion euros.
“With these four billion euros of financing, Egypt becomes a strategic economic partner of France”, the “first (…) in terms of financial exposure of the Treasury”, that is to say that with which France has the most financial commitments, said the minister.
An intergovernmental agreement stipulates that France will finance on “preferential terms” several projects via French companies to the tune of 1.8 billion euros.
The first provides for the supply by Alstom of 55 metro trainsets for line 1 in Cairo, for a total of 800 million euros financed by a loan from the Treasury.
The line used by 1.5 million travelers every day has trainsets dating from the 1980s.
The commercial contract with the French railway manufacturer will be signed “within six months”, according to the minister.
In addition, this project will help consolidate 400 jobs in France at the Alstom sites in Valenciennes (north) and Le Creusot (center-east), according to the minister.
Nine other projects are included in the intergovernmental agreement, signed alongside Egyptian Ministers of Finance Mohamed Maait and International Cooperation Rania el-Machat, in the fields of transport, energy and water treatment. .
They notably include rail transport projects in Alexandria (north) and Aswan (south).
They will be financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) to the tune of one billion euros between 2021 and 2025.
– “Excellent news” –
In addition, a roadmap was signed to reach an agreement, in particular on the implementation of the construction project of the new line 6 of the Cairo metro.
According to the minister, France is ready to offer bank loans guaranteed by the State for an amount of two billion euros.
In a statement sent to AFP, Alstom, which says it employs nearly 500 people in Egypt, hailed “excellent news for the French sites” of the group.
It “could allow the supply by Alstom of equipment for line 1 with the provision of maintenance services as well as rolling stock, signaling and development systems for the infrastructure of line 6”, adds the manufacturer.
Often paralyzed by traffic jams, Cairo, a megalopolis of more than 20 million inhabitants, suffers from a glaring lack of safe and efficient public transport.
The Cairo metro rail network has three lines which are currently the subject of extension work, while three others are planned.
Since the construction of the first line in the 1980s, in which French companies, including Alstom, took part, the metro has been one of the flagships of bilateral Franco-Egyptian cooperation.
At the beginning of May, Cairo announced the acquisition of 30 Rafale fighter planes, missiles and other equipment from Paris for an amount of nearly 4 billion euros, while going into debt over ten years to the assistance from a loan mechanism largely guaranteed by France.
Between the military and the civilian side, ongoing bilateral projects now represent a financial commitment of eight billion euros from France, according to the minister.