21, 2013 – 17:17
Switzerland has pledged yearly aid of SFr30 million ($32.2 million) to Egypt under a three-year agreement to bring about democratic change in the post-Arab Spring era. The funding is primarily earmarked for infrastructure and job projects.
According to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), some of the funds will also be used to bolster the Egyptian financial sector and work toward a more “inclusive, accountable and transparent” system of governance in the Arab nation.
The agreement, which was signed Sunday in Cairo, further focuses on strengthening human rights and providing humanitarian aid to a country that has seen turmoil since its longtime president was ousted in February 2011 in the wake of mass protests.
Oversight of the funding and the resulting programmes and initiatives will be carried out jointly by SECO, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Directorate of Political Affairs, the Directorate of Public International Law (DPIL) and the Federal Office for Migration (FOM).
Switzerland has also pledged development aid to other North African countries following the Arab Spring protests and is renewing funding programmes with each of them through 2016. Tunisia, Morocco and Libya all received between SFr7 million and SFr28 million from the SDC between 2010 and 2012.
Egypt is considered a “priority country” for the SDC, meaning it is an area of concentration for the department’s funding and resources.
According to SECO, Switzerland has invested SFr330 million in Egypt over the past 30 years, largely in infrastructure projects. Egypt is Switzerland’s second most important economic partner in Africa, second only to South Africa. Since the 2007 signing of the free-trade agreement with the European Fair Trade Area (EFTA), Swiss exports to Egypt have increased by 50 per cent and were worth at least SFr700 million in 2010.
swissinfo.ch and agencies