Canadian international assistance in Egypt
Egypt is the most populated Arab country in the Middle East. The country is an important broker for peace in the region but faces challenges of its own, including economic and political uncertainty.
Egypt has witnessed significant change since the 2011 Arab Spring, and the swearing-in of the newly elected Parliament in 2016 marked the final step in the democratic transition roadmap. Egypt’s economy is suffering from a notable downturn, closely linked to the uncertainty of the political transition, social unrest, terrorist attacks and the insecurity of the past five years. Egypt recently negotiated a US$ 12 billion loan with the International Monetary Funds (IMF). The currency, which was devalued, has not yet stabilized, and inflation has risen to almost 30%.These factors have negatively affected tourism, manufacturing and exports, significantly increasing unemployment and poverty rates, most notably in rural areas. Egypt has also been affected by the crisis in Syria and continues to host over 120 000 refugees, providing them with social services equivalent to those provided to Egyptian citizens.
Egypt ranks 111 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2016 Human Development Index (110 in 2013). The country has made great progress with a number of important human development indicators dramatically improved in the past 30 years including:
- child mortality
- life expectancy
- primary and secondary school enrolment
- literacy rates
However, economic growth has been moderate and insufficient to absorb the rapidly growing population and labour force, with average per capita income growth at around two% per year since 1980.
More than 27% of the population live below the national poverty line. Other economic stresses include significant wealth disparities, mismatches between education/skills training and labour market needs, and limited trade and investment.
More than a quarter of the population is aged between 15 and 24. This group is disproportionately affected by unemployment, representing 29% of the country’s unemployed.
Egyptian women also face substantial restrictions on their activities, leading to low female participation in the economy and in social and political institutions. The unemployment rate for women is three times that of men. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, Egypt ranks 132 out of 144countries in gender equality.
In recent years, market reforms have improved economic growth somewhat but not enough to substantially raise living standards for the average Egyptian. The Government of Egypt has also launched several initiatives to combat corruption. In 2015, Egypt ranked 108 out of 176 on the Transparency International report on global corruption an improvement from 2011, where it ranked 112 out of 183 countries.
Egypt is also facing substantial energy and water challenges. The country has been identified by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development as being extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, especially with respect to water availability and the risk of rising sea levels on its coastal zones.
Our international development assistance
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Canada’s programming is helping Egypt to support the growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, expand entrepreneurship and boost the productivity of the private sector. The programming is also helping strengthen the quality and range of market-responsive vocational, technical and professional training programs available to marginalized populations including young men and women.
Canada’s development assistance to Egypt also aims to improve the resilience of the Government of Egypt and host communities to address and mitigate the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis. Canada and its development partners work with the ministry of education to provide quality education opportunities and services to vulnerable Egyptian and Syrian children, while at the same time strengthening social cohesion within host communities.
Key anticipated results:
- increased number and growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises through support to business start-ups, training to expand existing businesses, and improvements in the enabling environment to support business development
- job creation and improved employability of youth and women through skills-for-employment training
- improved resilience of the Government of Egypt and host communities to address and mitigate the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis
- Four donors signed a cooperation protocol (Canada, Germany, the European Union and the US) to have their technical and vocational training programming support youth employment and entrepreneurship through the roll out of the “Know About Your Business” toolkit in 2,000 technical secondary schools with an outreach of 1.6 million students.
- Distribution of 12 million packs of nutritious date bars to more than 124,000 Syrian and Egyptian children in those public schools where there is a high concentration of Syrian refugees
- 168 teachers trained in the techniques of teaching reading, 117 teachers trained in active learning methods and 15,215 children received uniforms and school supplies
- 9,308 jobs created through contributions to the World Bank/International Finance Corporation credit lines
- delivery of entrepreneurial training to 21,700 graduates from 21 technical colleges and 9,700 graduates from more than 40 government vocational training centres
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