February 17, 2015 / 3:02 PM / 5 years ago

Half projects in Egypt March investment conference to be in energy sector

CAIRO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Half the projects Egypt will propose at a March investment summit will be in the energy sector, the minister of international cooperation said on Tuesday.

The government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi sees the conference, partly supported by Gulf allies and due to be held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, as playing a key role in turning around an economy battered by four years of turmoil.

Securing financing for Egypt’s energy sector, which has seen an increase in foreign investment in past months, will be a major part of the conference, international cooperation minister Naglaa El Ahwany told Reuters in an interview.

“I would say half of them, half of the projects we’ll propose” will be in energy, Ahwany said.

Egypt’s willingness to push fuel market reforms and stick to debt repayment plans has led to an unexpected resurgence in oil and gas exploration and supply deals previously delayed by political upheaval.

In January alone, Egypt clinched 15 new exploration deals, amended two more, and closed major tenders to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Algeria to Russia, opening up to global energy pricing norms as the government seeks to scrap crippling subsidies by 2019.

But Ahwany said the government did not want the energy sector to divert attention from other potential investment opportunities in transport, agriculture and a Suez Canal logistics hub.

“Energy is very important, but we would also like to diversify the investments in the country,” she said, while declining to specify how many projects would be presented, or a dollar amount of investment that Egypt hoped to attract.

Ahwany instead focused on the conference’s symbolic value as an opportunity to present Egypt as an attractive destination after the uncertainty that has hung over the country since two leaders were ousted in 2011 and 2013.

“The main objective of this conference is to send a strong message to the whole world that Egypt is back,” she said. (Reporting by Shadi Bushra; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Mark Potter)

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