Egypt’s Ambassador to France reveals to the Middle East Observer

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It seems that the 30th of June revolution’s government has passed the phase of merely addressing economic and security problems to cross over to a new strategic level of macro management.   “the Egyptian State believes that “École Nationale D’Administration” (ENA) has proved since 1945 to be one of the best schools in the world in graduating executive leadership of the state, therefore we have been active since 2016 in approaching them to gain their know-how” said Mohamed Kandil, first secretary of the Egyptian embassy in Paris to the Observer.  Kandil added that the administrative system in France is more comparable to the Egyptian system than the American one, since the American system is more decentralised. 

ENA or the (National School of Administration) based in Strasbourg city in France selects and trains an annual number from 80 to 90 senior French officials per year.  Admission to the ENA is granted based on a competitive exam.  Applicants generally take this exam after completing studies at the Institut d’études politiques de Paris or any Prép’Ena (preparatory classes for the ENA.  This exam and admission is restricted to candidates who already graduated universities or grandes écoles).  Among known graduates of ENA are heads of states like  Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, Jacques Chirac, and François Hollande who were all (ex. Presidents of France),  in addition to  Emmanuel Macron (current president of France).  Heads of states of other countries also graduated from ENA like Nicéphore Soglo (ex. Prime Minister of Benin), Adly Mansour (ex. interim president of Egypt), and Paul Biya (president of Cameroon).  Among many other senior level government officials who similarly graduated from ENA were  Edouard Philippe (Prime Minister of France), Laurent Fabius, Michel Rocard, Édouard Balladur, Alain Juppé, Lionel Jospin, and  Dominique de Villepin who were all ex-prime ministers of France.

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In 24 August 2017 president Sisi decreed the launch of The Egyptian Academy to train and qualify the youth.  The launch of this academy can be considered as the fruit of the effort made to partnership with ENA.

Egypt is pursuing to finance this Academy through European Union, local funds and possibly French finances.  The plan is to fly over experts from ENA to train the Egyptian trainers on French know-how.  The comprehensive plan is not only to select and train candidates but it also includes a mechanism to recruit them in the Egyptian administrative body.  Ambassador Ehab Badawy explained that the Egyptian government is targeting an executive training not an academic one. “We are creating an Egyptian ENA” Badawy said.  “We will create the training programs in partnership with ENA” he added.  On the 24th of October 2017 a declaration of intents was signed between president Macron and president El-Sisi concerning this partnership during the president’s visit to Paris.  The Egyptian embassy in Paris hopes to close the deal in an anticipated visit to Cairo in the near future by president Macron.  Regarding the candidates’ selection process that could be a matter of concern to sceptics, ambassador Badawy explained that there are recent instances that prove the Egyptian government commitment to a strict and fair selection process. It is a selection process not un heard of in Egypt because it is similar to the ministry of foreign affairs tests, where sons of high ranking Egyptian officials did not qualify in recent years.

After the selection process trainees will be trained through case studies and simulations in negotiations, law, economy, public finance, internal and international political affairs, administration of government sectors and languages.

“This project was an initiative from the embassy after we have realised the existence of a French institution that can provide real value to Egypt in a field which we do have an urgent need for.

In light of the distinguished political relations between Egypt and France, we forecasted the possibility of a positive response from the French government and this is what happened.

Why is the French government helping us? They are helping us because Egypt is a friend, hence, the French government gave directions to ENA to cooperate, but also the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs had a previous relationship through diplomats and judges from the Egyptian State Council undertaking training at ENA for more than 15 years now.  There is even an Egyptian ENA alumni society of about 51 graduates now” Badawy said.  One of those alumni graduated in 1965.  “ENA knows that Egypt is a strategic central country in the Middle East and that our bureaucracy is inspired by theirs, they have developed a way to face administrative complications in this bureaucracy and they are eager to transfer this know-how to us” Badawy concluded.

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