The EBRD has lent US$50mn to the National Bank of Egypt, for on-lending to local SMEs.

It’s the second part of an overall US$100mn package the EBRD has opened with the bank in an effort to galvanise Egypt’s international trade, as wariness persists among international financiers.

The country has failed to reach any sort of political stability since the Arab Spring swept through it in early 2010. This week (beginning February 24), its interim cabinet resigned, which is thought to pave the way for Egypt’s military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to announce his plans to run for president.

The resignation came in the face of labour strikes by public transport workers, garbage collectors and doctors in Cairo, as well as textile workers in the industrial city of Mahalla.

Half of the latest EBRD facility is to be used to provide foreign currency to the National Bank of Egypt’s clients, to help finance exports and imports for three years, at a competitive rate. The remaining US$25mn will be used for guaranteeing letters of credit and accreditation documents.

Hildegard Gacek, the EBRD’s southern and eastern Mediterranean head, has previously said that supporting Egypt’s SME sector “is one of our main priorities in the country”. It is his view that SMEs will fill the bulk of the employment gap in Egypt.