EGYPT: IFC, NBE and MSMEDA to Finance Solar Irrigation Start-ups

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How to stimulate the development of clean technologies in Egyptian agriculture? This is the aim of an alliance that was recently signed between the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s subsidiary; the National Bank of Egypt (NBE); and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA).

Under the partnership, the IFC will provide technical assistance to Egyptian financial institutions, including the NBE and the MSMEDA, to help develop a financial product that will enable farmers to purchase solar water pumps at an affordable price. The World Bank’s private sector financing arm estimates that 960,000 diesel-powered water pumps are currently being used for irrigation in Egypt, at an annual cost of about $250 million (purchase of diesel and maintenance, editor’s note).

Financing solar pumps for irrigation

Replacing these polluting and costly to maintain and operate with solar photovoltaic systems would save farmers fuel and maintenance costs, which would contribute to a cleaner environment. “Start-ups make up the bulk of the solar pumping market in Egypt, but they are currently unable to grow due to a lack of payment and financing options for customers and a limited understanding of the sector,” says the IFC.

According to Nevine Gamea, Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry and executive chairman of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA), with solar pumps, farmers have the opportunity to use a clean and free source of energy, but they can also irrigate more plantations and increase production. “This initiative is consistent and in full agreement with the MSMEDA’s strategy to explore new financial products that are feasible, environmentally friendly and use clean technologies,” said Minister Nevine Gamea.

The initiative by the International Finance Corporation is very important for Egyptian agriculture. In this North African country, irrigation is central to agricultural practices. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the country of the pharaohs has the largest irrigation area among the Nile basin countries. The total area equipped for irrigation in Egypt is estimated at 3.45 million hectares (3.4% of the country’s total area).

Jean Marie Takouleu

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