France will invest €1.8bn in state-guaranteed loans for Egyptian infrastructure, including upgrades to the Cairo Metro, a railway to Sudan, and water and energy schemes, Reuters reports.Â
Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, said Egypt was a strategic partner and commercial dealings with it would be developed. "France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans," he said.
It is reported that €800m will be spent on 55 trainsets for Line 1 of the Cairo Metro. The rolling stock, to be provided by French engineer Alstom, will replace 30 year old carriages on Line 1.
That deal will safeguard some 400 jobs at Alstom factories in Valenciennes and Creusot.
Another €1bn will be spent on nine projects over the next five years. They include a number in the renewable energy and water purification sectors, and a railway line between Aswan, southern Egypt, and Wadi Halfa in Sudan.
Providing the loans will be Agence FranÃ§aise de Développement (ADF), the French development aid fund.
This money may be followed by a second tranche of around €2bn, which would go toward building Line 6 of the Cairo Metro. Le Maire said this would be negotiated over the next six months.
French contractors such as Vinci and Bouygues have a long history of working on the Egyptian capital’s underground system (see further reading).
Reuters notes that France and Egypt have forged close ties since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, despite criticism of Egypt by human rights activists and some foreign states.
The Echos newspaper comments that relations between the two countries have warmed since Egypt agreed to buy some 30 Rafale fighter jets.Â
Image:Â French companies have a long history of work on the Cairo Metro (Dreamstime/Robert Paul Van Beets)