CAIRO, March 21 The European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development expects to invest about 1 billion
euros ($1.1 billion) in Egypt this year, following a revival in
investor interest after it floated its pound currency in
November, EBRD officials said on Tuesday.
The EBRD has invested 2.3 billion euros in 42 projects in
Egypt since it began operations there in 2012, making the
country the bank's third-biggest investment destination
The bank, which works with companies to support market
economies and develop the private sector, had hoped to work on
more projects last year but a foreign currency shortage in Egypt
caused many investors to put their plans on hold.
"There's been more investor interest in Egypt since the
currency reforms and some of the other economic reforms that
Egypt is undertaking," Janet Heckman, the managing director for
the southern and eastern Mediterranean, told Reuters in Cairo.
Egypt has struggled to revive its economy since the 2011
uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule and ushered in
a period of instability that scared off investors and tourists,
key earners of foreign exchange in the import-dependent country.
Supporting Egypt's dollar peg had drained the central bank's
foreign reserves, forcing it to impose capital controls.
In November, Egypt's central bank floated the pound, in a
dramatic move that has seen the currency halve in value. The
flotation helped Egypt clinch a $12 billion IMF loan to support
a government reform programme.
The EBRD welcomed the liberalisation of the currency at the
time and Catarina Bjorlin Hansen, the bank's deputy head for
Egypt, said interest from private sector investors had picked
"In the autumn things slowed as people put on hold projects
both before and after the devaluation. In February, we saw
companies resume activity," Hansen told Reuters.
"I am optimistic but it is important to stick to the plan
and not to take any shortcuts, which is tempting when things get
Hansen said the EBRD was expecting to invest in a larger
number of smaller projects this year than the 17 it worked on
Established in 1991 after the fall of communism in eastern
Europe, the EBRD expanded its remit to the southern and eastern
Mediterranean in the wake of the Arab uprisings of 2011.
($1 = 0.9250 euros)
(Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Hugh Lawson)