France agrees to provide $2.2bn in financing for Egypt

Amount includes concessional government loan of about €800m for upgrades to Line 1 of Cairo's metro

France's Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks to reporters after his meeting with the Egyptian prime minister at the prime minister's office in the capital Cairo on June 13, 2021.  / AFP / Khaled DESOUKI

France said on Sunday it would provide Egypt with about €1.8 billion ($2.2bn) in financing for projects including the Cairo metro, power generation and water management, in what officials called a major boost to bilateral co-operation.

It includes a concessional government loan of about €800 million for upgrades to Line 1 of Cairo's metro, which was built in the 1980s.

Another €1bn of financing from AFD, France's development agency, will cover a range of projects over the next five years.

More state-guaranteed loans worth a possible €2bn for a new metro route in Cairo would be negotiated over the next six months, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said during a trip to the Egyptian capital.

France and Egypt have forged close ties since Abdel Fattah El Sisi became president in 2014.

Co-operation has included billions of dollars in arms sales to a country France considers a vital partner in countering extremism.

In May, France announced a new €4bn deal to deliver 30 Dassault warplanes to Egypt starting in 2024.

Mr Le Maire said France considered Egypt a strategic partner and had chosen to expand its commercial dealings after a visit by Mr El Sisi to Paris in December.

"France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government-to-government loans," he said.

Projects announced on Sunday include the construction of a railway line between Aswan in southern Egypt and Wadi Halfa in neighbouring Sudan, Egypt's Cabinet said.

AFD will also provide €150m to support building a universal health insurance programme.

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