The British International Investment Corporation (BII), the UK’s development finance arm, portfolio in Egypt has reached $600m, Sherine Shohdy, Head of Egypt and Coverage Director North Africa, BII said. The corporation is also committing $700m in funding to address climate challenges in Egypt and across Africa.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Shohdy emphasized the institution’s strong focus on Egypt. She highlighted the country’s promising investment climate and the corporation’s ongoing support for Egyptian businesses.
“The Egyptian market is one of our prominent focuses due to promising opportunities,” Shohdy said. “The institution has currently invested in about 50 companies, generating over 32,000 job opportunities.”
The BII is particularly interested in supporting Egypt’s new energy sector and companies with significant export potential. These investments aim to address the country’s economic challenges and enhance liquidity.
“We are very interested in green hydrogen projects and will participate in financing a number of renewable energy projects,” said Shohdy. “Companies exporting to African countries have an investment advantage, given the continent’s urgent need for various goods and products.”
Despite Egypt’s current economic challenges, including foreign currency shortages, high-interest rates, and inflation, the BII remains committed to investing in the country.
“We continuously seek to avoid delays in investment, particularly considering the ongoing climate challenges,” Shohdy said. “Egypt, with its flexibility, is a promising market capable of overcoming current economic challenges, and sectors such as health, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and trade offer strong opportunities.”
Egypt is the most invested African market for the institution, covering the entire continent, with the Egypt office overseeing North African countries. The institution continually explores new investment opportunities in various sectors in Egypt, with a focus on climate adaptation and mitigation projects.
The BII is also making significant investments in Egypt’s green hydrogen sector, recognizing its potential to address climate change. The corporation is currently studying several green hydrogen projects in Egypt.
Highlighting the notable investments in 2022, Shohdy mentioned the capital support for Banque du Caire worth $50m, funding for Kazyon Retail to facilitate exports to Morocco, and a partnership with MatiTo to launch the AWID water desalination investment platform in Egypt and Africa.
The AWID platform provides funding for water treatment and sewage stations, develops high-quality facilities to improve access to safe and sustainable water, and focuses on countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
In terms of water infrastructure investments, Shahdi mentioned that annual investments in Africa range from $10bn to $15bn, while the region requires $30bn annually, especially due to water scarcity. The MatiTo platform aims to bridge this gap, but global challenges significantly impact investments directed towards the continent.
Shohdy emphasized BII’s commitment to allocate up to 30% of its total investments to address climate challenges in Africa and Asia. In 2022, the institution allocated approximately $700m to finance climate challenges in both regions, which accounted for 46% of its total investments amounting to $1.5bn.
The distribution of BII investments is approximately 57% in Africa, 37% in Asia, and the remaining 6% worldwide. Shohdy highlighted the institution’s eagerness to leverage artificial intelligence technologies, particularly in tackling climate challenges.
Currently, the institution manages investments in Africa that exceed $4.6bn, with total assets under management reaching approximately $8.23bn by the end of 2022.
Shohdy mentioned that the institution’s policy does not prevent it from investing in startups, but it prefers to direct investments through risk capital funds. These funds have a comprehensive understanding of each company’s nature and investment needs, enabling them to interact directly with the companies.