The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) is considering providing the technical assistance to Egypt’s government regarding clean coal usage, UNIDO’s knowledge management officer in Egypt Ahmed Nabil Fahmy stated on Monday.
In coordination with the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Investment, UNIDO will conduct the needed research to ensure coal is used in a manner which complies with environmental standards, Fahmy said, noting that an agreement between UNIDO and the ministry is expected to be signed by the end of 2014.
Fahmy made these statements during a Monday press conference to highlight UNIDO’s current and future projects in Egypt.
Despite the opposition of the Ministry of Environment, the interim government approved in April the use of coal in the industrial sector to address the energy shortage, pending the endorsement of the Environmental Impact Assessment, which is under the Ministry of Environmental Affairs.
After issuing the decision, the government said that it would impose a tax on coal usage and work on amending laws to tighten penalties for violating environmental standards and regulations.
Using coal would require factories’ owners to import coal, which Minister of Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said would not start until the environmental standards and regulations for the industrial use of coal have been finalised and ratified.
However, a coalition of four NGOs, including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), announced their resolve to resist the government’s decision to approve the use of coal.
Listing UNIDO projects in Egypt, Fahmy pointed out that the organisation is currently adopting a project to improve energy efficiency in the industrial sector through training engineers how to best use energy. The project, which was launched in 2012 and will conclude in 2017, is valued at $95.3m and is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), an international organisation which addresses global environmental issues.
Another project under the title of “Green Trade Initiative” has begun in 2014, and aims to help Egyptian farmers to export their crops to European countries through Italy. The EGP 55m project is funded through the debt swap programme between the Egyptian and Italian governments, according to Fahmy.
Targeting socio-economic development in Upper Egypt, UNIDO kicked off in June 2013 the “HAYAT” programme to improve the livelihood of vulnerable households, youth, women and children in Minya governorate through implementing “productive projects”.
The programme, which will end in 2015, is valued at $6bn through the funding of the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security Fund (UNTFHS), the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations.
UNIDO began operating in Egypt in 1997, cooperating with the government and private sector to support industrial development, Fahmy stated, adding that there are currently 10 UNIDO projects in Egypt being implemented.