Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s Middle East division director Masataka TAKESHITA during an interview with Egypt Today July 2019 atJICA’s  headquarters’ in Tokyo- Aya Samir/Egypt Today Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s Middle East division director Masataka TAKESHITA during an interview with Egypt Today July 2019 atJICA’s headquarters’ in Tokyo- Aya Samir/Egypt Today

Egypt’s economic steps successful, steady: JICA’s Middle East division director

Tue, Jul. 16, 2019
TOKYO- 15 July 2019: We believe that Egypt is taking successful steady steps towards achieving stable economy for the country, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s Middle East division Director Masataka TAKESHITA told Egypt Today.

During an interview held at JICA’s headquarters’ in Tokyo, TAKESHITA said that they cannot representthe Japanese government as a whole; however, JICA itself, which shares a strong relation with the Egyptian government along with a number of officials, shares the opinion of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank which indicates that the Egyptian economy is showinggood indicators of improvement.

He added that that the total figures achieved by the Egyptian economy are satisfying; however, the employment rates are still to be considered as one of the main challenges that face the country.

He pointed out that Egypt still needs to work on creating more job opportunities, especially that the country has a steadily growing population that should be used as a privilege. He assured that the country’s population is one of the positive sides that should be exploited in the best ways.

Regarding the current cooperation projects between Egypt and JICA, TAKESHITA affirmed that all signed and agreed upon projects between the two countries will continue as planed; however, Japan is aiming in the future to allow the Egyptians to be more able to run all their projects on their own without any need of an external help from other countries including Japan.

“We preferred to see Egypt as a completely independent country, able to run all of its projects by Egyptian cadres, plans and strategies,”TAKESHITA said.

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In April 2019, the IMF issued a report saying that “Egypt’s macroeconomic situation has improved markedly since the initiation of the authorities’ reform program in November 2016.”

The report, published on IMF website, added that the liberalization of the foreign exchange market, prudent monetary policy, and ambitious fiscal consolidation have helped stabilize the macroeconomic environment.

“Growth has accelerated; external and fiscal deficits have narrowed; international reserves have risen; and public debt, inflation, and unemployment have declined. Fiscal savings were in part deployed to enhance social protection and ease the burden of adjustment on the poor. Furthermore, ongoing structural reforms aim at promoting private sector-led inclusive growth and job creation,” the report read.

Ongoing cooperation between Egypt and Japan
Education, culture and tourism are the main sectorsfor the current cooperation projects between Egypt and Japan. Nearly 100 schools are planned to open during the upcoming years, whose number hasnot yet been accurately identified. "However,they are all planned to be established in the coming years,"TAKESHITA stressed.

Around 35 schools have already opened their doors and received Egyptian students for the academic year 2018/2019.Five more schools are expected to open during the next year, according to JICA's Egypt Office Chief Representative Yoshifumi Omura during an interview with Egypt Today inJune 2019.

“In 2018, we opened 35 and next year we are planning to open five more, which means that the total number will reach 40 schools,”Omura said.

“And of course, we expected to face some difficulties and problems in the beginning because the whole idea is new. But so far, I can say that the experience is pretty much successful, despite everything that happened during setting up the process last year,”Omura added during his statements.

He pointed out that the Japanese schools in Egypt will be just about changing the educational system not the materials, because materials “are based on the country itself.”

“For example, what President Sisi admired when he visited the elementary schools in Tokyo was how the students were very clean and organized, and so he said, 'this is a walking Quran'.. Which means this is exactly what the Quran told us to do. Then he asked us to coordinate with the Egyptian government on this regard,”Omura said.

TAKESHITA alsotold Egypt Today that Japan has dispatched deletions from Japan to train Egyptian teachers on the Japanese special Educational System, especially what is known as “TOKKATSU.”

Moreover, Japan has tendency to support Egypt in the technology and innovation part which will be under the focusof Japan and most of the African countries, including Egypt, during the 2019 Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) set to take place in August.

The Egyptian-Japanese cooperation in The Egyptian Grand Museum (GEM) project was one of the most successful models for cooperation between Egypt and Japan. The museum will help create more job opportunities inside the Egyptian market,according to TAKESHITA. Also, it will help promote tourism, which is one of Egypt’s main economic resources.

TAKESHITA stressed that the cooperation between Egypt and Japan is not just governmental, but also on the private sector level, as nearly 50 to 60 Japanese companies are operating in the Egyptian market at the meantime. He added that the current cooperation between Egypt and Japan depends on the ODA loans, which is being pushed to succeed in Egypt in order for all of the projects to achieve success.

TAKESHITA pointed out that the Egyptian government should be considering facilitating the Japanese and foreign companies' operation in Egypt.

The cooperation between Japan and Egypt even extended to the medical sector, agriculture, transportation and infrastructure. In total, JICA has provided around a $1.5 billion grant aid, and financed 42 projects with ODA loan, which accumulates nearly $6.5 billion. Technical cooperation amounted to around $800 million.

Currently, JICA is working on 11 ongoing ODA loan projects, including Energy Control System Upgrading Project in Upper Egypt, Gulf of El Zayt Wind Power Plant Project, Electricity Distribution System Improvement Project, Electricity Sector Rehabilitation and Improvement Project, Borg El Arab International Airport Extension Project (II), Greater Cairo Metro Line 4 Phase I Project, construction of New Dirout Group of Regulators (DGR), improvement of the Water Distribution System, the Grand Egyptian Museum construction, Hurghada Photovoltaic Power Plant construction, EJEP: Human Resource Development Project, and EJEP: Egypt-Japan School Support Program.

This is in addition to two grant projects, including the project for introducing clean energy by the solar electricity distribution system, and Cairo University Special Pediatric Hospital’s Outpatient Facility.

More cooperation and talks are expected to be taking place between the Egyptian and Japanese officials during TICAD7, which will be held in Yokohama city, August 28 to 30, with the participation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and most of the African presidents and leaders.

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