Regional Office Egypt
The UNIDO Regional office in Cairo was established in 1999 in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Over the years UNIDO has been supporting Egypt’s progress towards the achievement of social and economic growth, through the promotion of industrial development for employment generation and environmental sustainability.
Leveraging its extensive experience worldwide, UNIDO responds to development challenges in Egypt by providing technical expertise and capacity-building measures to trigger a range of environmental, social and economic benefits, unleashing the potential for inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
UNIDO is currently engaged with the Government of Egypt and its civil society in initiatives that relate to: agro-industry development, human security in Upper Egypt, small and medium enterprise development and job creation, youth employment, energy efficiency and renewable energies, implementation of Montreal Protocol activities, promotion of green industries.
Almost three years after the outbreak of the Arab spring uprisings, Egypt’s economic performance is yet to recover. Amid the ongoing political uncertainty and social instability Egypt’s macroeconomic indicators remain well below their pre-2011 levels.
Economic growth remains weak, coupled with high budget deficit and high public debt. Low growth rates pose a danger to poverty eradication efforts and contribute to mounting social frustrations, as they will not suffice to deliver the needed jobs and opportunities. Poverty remains high, especially in Upper Egypt: with a poverty incidence of 41.2 per cent Upper Egypt is almost doubling the national average of 21 per cent of the population living on less than USD1 per day during 2010/11.
The year 2013 saw the highest record of unemployment, which peaked to 13.4 per cent of the total workforce in the third quarter of 2013, up from 13.3 per cent in the previous quarter. This is far higher than the Egyptian average unemployment rate of 9.9 per cent over the last decade. Most critically, more than one in three young people between 20 and 24 years old are not being absorbed by the labor market.
The ongoing political uncertainty and social instability have also accelerated inflation rates, due to the higher prices of imports, and hit tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI), two key sources of foreign reserves.
The imperative of supporting broader economic and social growth, within an environmentally sustainable framework where prosperity is shared among all parts of society and no one is left behind in benefitting from industrial growth, has become even more urgent in the aftermath of the Arab spring uprisings. Indeed, industry generates the wealth needed to address critical economic, social and humanitarian needs.
Pro-poor growth through productive activities
Through a participatory approach, UNIDO implements technical cooperation projects that enable Egypt’s enterprises to become an effective driver of pro-poor growth. It promotes local entrepreneurship with a particular focus on developing the entrepreneurial skills of disadvantaged groups, such as youth and women.
Upgrading the medicinal and aromatic plants value chain: access to export markets
Past projects implemented by UNIDO in the agro-industrial sector provided detailed insights into the challenge and bottlenecks hindering its development potential, namely the disconnect between primary production and further processing, low degree of value addition, high post-harvest losses, as well as lack of technical knowledge and market information. UNIDO is addressing these bottlenecks and will continue to do so, jointly with the Government of Egypt, using a number of innovative tools.
Green trade initiative
The Green Trade Initiative seeks to scale up previous interventions in the agribusiness sector implemented by the Government of Italy (donor of this project) and by UNIDO, namely the “Green Corridor Pilot Project” and the “E-Trace: Traceability of Agro- Industrial Products for the European Market Project”.
Interregional project to promote SME origin and export consortia
For many SMEs, exporting is often a complex business involving high risks and costs. The creation of export and origin consortia is a dynamic tool promoted by UNIDO to support SMEs’ efforts to gain export markets, pooling financial, operational and human resources towards clear common export targets. As part of an interregional project implemented in Egypt, Morocco, Peru and Ecuador, the project component implemented in Egypt aims to improve the economic and social performance of origin and export consortia member companies.
Human security through inclusive socio-economic development in Upper Egypt
The aftermath of the 2011 Arab spring uprisings is pushing the most vulnerable groups – youth, women and children – in rural Upper Egypt to slide deeper into poverty and exclusion. Through this project, UNIDO is working with ILO, IOM, UN Habitat and UN Women, through local government, civil society partners and community structures, to strengthen the economic security of at least 18,000 beneficiaries in the vulnerable districts of El Edwa and Maghagha, both in the Minya governorate.
Support to the development of culture and creative industries and clusters in the Southern Mediterranean
Creative industries are defined as those that use creativity and intellectual capital as primary inputs. They comprise tangible products and intangible intellectual or artistic services with creative content, economic value and market objectives. They are at the crossroad among the artisan, services and industrial sector, and constitute a new dynamic sector in world trade.
Upgrading date palm value chain in Egypt
While Egypt is the first producer of dates worldwide, it only exports around 1.2% of its production. UNIDO is therefore planning to target the date palm products sector, aiming to upgrade its value chain via an integrated demand-based approach. The project strategy is in line with national policies for SMEs promotion in Egypt, focusing on building the capacity of SMEs and integrating them in global value chains as well as improving entrepreneurship policies with the inclusion of women.
Industrial energy efficiency
Improving energy efficiency in industry is one of the most cost-effective measures to help supply-constrained countries meet their increasing energy demand and loosen the link between economic growth and environmental degradation. Aware of the importance of developing an energy efficiency strategy to face the country development challenges, UNIDO is working on the industrial energy efficiency project together with the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, represented by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), and in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Montreal Protocol projects
Since 1993, UNIDO has been assisting the Government of Egypt, through the EEAA, to comply with its commitments as signatory party of the Montreal Protocol carrying out projects that aim to phase-out ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in industry, agriculture, and the refrigeration sector.
Promoting low-carbon technologies for heating and cooling applications
Egypt’s frequent power cuts and fuel shortages of oil and natural gas create an urgent need for diversified energy sources and increased energy efficiency. In particular, air conditioning and heating systems represent a burden for the Egyptian energy sector. Alternative technologies are already available to replace conventional air conditioning and heating systems, and most of them are solar powered, which represents a real opportunity for Egypt given the high solar radiation the country enjoys.
Low-carbon and climate resilient industrial development in Egypt, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa
Egypt’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change puts its manufacturing and associated sectors at risk. Current and future changes in climatic conditions may jeopardize Egypt’s development gains and efforts for poverty reduction and sustainable and inclusive growth. Funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by Egypt National Cleaner Production Centre (ENCPC), this project will assure UNIDO’s continued contribution to cleaner and more competitive industrial development in the above mentioned countries.
SWITCH-MED: Demonstration and networking initiative
This project will build on a previous projected that promoted the transfer of environmental sound technology (TEST) for implementing and/or upgrading environmental management systems in the Alexandria region. Under this approach, companies were supported in fully integrating resource efficiency into company policy, action plans and internal procedures, thereby improving their compliance with environmental regulations. Due to the high interest in replicating and scaling up this program at the national and regional levels, the EU agreed to finance a new initiative in 10 countries in the Mediterranean region to assist additional companies and train national institutions, service providers, and local professionals to become TEST providers, thereby promoting green entrepreneurship and empowering them as key drivers of sustainable consumption and production practices.