Female entrepreneurs involved in Egypt’s green energy sector are set to benefit from a new programme launched by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The joint US$7mn initiative, called ‘the programme for supporting renewable energy and promoting gender equality in Egypt’ will seek to enhance employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women in green energy.

It will strive to “identify challenges that prevent women’s participation in the sector and potential skills mismatches”, the EBRD says in a statement, noting that it will work with the Egyptian authorities on the initiative.

The programme will then make recommendations for ways to facilitate a greater number of successful women-led small businesses in the sector.

The ultimate aim is to help Egypt in its energy transition. The country has an urgent need to increase its renewable energy output to meet the growing demand of its population. The government has set an ambitious target of ensuring that 20% of its electricity is generated from renewable sources by 2022 (12% from wind, 2% from solar and 6% from hydroelectricity), and 42% by 2035. The country is in a good position to develop its renewable sector, enjoying hours of sunshine due to its geographic location, as well as strong winds it can harness, particularly in the Gulf of Suez.

Increasing the output of the renewables sector would not only free up some of Egypt’s oil and gas reserves for the export market, but also attract much-needed foreign investment into a country that has suffered years of political turmoil.

Meanwhile, the government’s strategic priority is expected to prompt job growth in the Egyptian renewable energy sector, which “represents a significant opportunity for women in Egypt to expand their skills and participate in a high-value, high-growth sector”, the EBRD says.

The EBRD already has a big focus on green initiatives, having invested nearly €30bn in green economy transition projects across its coverage areas since 2006, with €5.2bn going towards renewable energy specifically.

In Egypt, the EBRD and the GCF – together with other development finance institutions – played a crucial role in securing the financial close for solar plants in the major Benban solar complex in late-2017.

To date, the EBRD has committed over €4.8bn to financing 91 projects across a range of sectors in Egypt, with 16 being in renewable energy. The specific focus on women is part of the bank’s ‘strategy for the promotion of gender equality’, which mandates the promotion of policies and practices that contribute to building gender equitable and sustainable economies, and which was adopted by the EBRD in 2015.