Egypt  has signed a loan agreement with the EU for $74.5m (EUR 68m) to help finance a number of projects for the delivery of natural gas in Egypt, especially to poorest areas, reports Egypt Oil & Gas.

Tarek El-Molla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, and Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of International Cooperation, signed on behalf of Egypt.

They sealed the deal with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission,

The funds will be managed by the French Development Agency.

The funding arrangement coincides with a $500m World Bank loan Egypt will receive, in addition to the $76.6m (EUR 70m) loan from the French Development Agency, contributing to the natural gas delivery project earmarked for 1.5m housing units. This will run over a four-year period and covers 11 provinces: Giza, Ismailia, Alexandria, Matrouh, Menoufia, Qaliubiya, Dakahlia, Al-Gharbiya, Qena, Sohag and Aswan.

The EU ambassador in Cairo attended the signing along with EGAS chairman Khalid Abdul Badi and EGAS Vice Chairman Gamal Hegazy.

Following the signing, the minister of petroleum said that the ministry has adopted a strategy of expanding the use of natural gas in houses in the various governorates of Egypt, especially in high-density residential areas, as a key contribution to rationalizing LPG consumption and relieving budgetary pressures for subsidies.

He added that the current fiscal year plan for 2015/2016 aims to connect natural gas to 1.2m residential units, an ambitious plan targeting poorer areas, especially in Upper Egypt, part of a larger framework of improving services provided to citizens.