Board green-lights EBRD investments in Arab Spring countries

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development logo. Photo by: EBRD

After opening offices and hiring personnel, Europe’s development bank is now ready to invest in three Arab Spring countries.

The board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development approved Tuesday (Sept. 19) three projects meant to boost private sector growth in Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco. The decision follows the bank’s approval in May of a €1 billion ($1.3 billion) special fund for four Arab nations, which includes Egypt.

Details of the three projects, which are scheduled to start by the end of this month, are as follows:

  • $30 million trade finance line for Jordan’s InvestBank. Part of the money will be used to support small and midsize companies that also engage in trade with countries where EBRD operates.

  • €20 million in equity investments in SMEs in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. The money will be channeled to the Maghreb Private Equity Fund III, which is sponsored by AfricInvest-TunInvest, a private equity firm in North and sub-Saharan Africa that has offices in Tunisia and Morocco.

  • €20 million loan to Morocco’s Société Générale Marocaine de Banques. The money will be used for lending to SMEs as well as microentrepreneurs. The bank will also provide SGMB a €5 million trade finance facility to support its clients’ trade business.

This is the bank’s first set of investments in the region following its decision to expand operations beyond Eastern European countries. It targets to invest up to €200 million in the four countries by the end of 2012  and reach €2.5 billion by 2015.

“Investments in Egypt are expected to be submitted shortly,” according to a press release. This is because the country is currently “finalizing its own internal documentation,” EBRD Communication Adviser Nibal Zgheib explained to Devex.

Next on the bank’s agenda is the development of a $100 million power plant in Amman, Jordan, which is expected to address the country’s “acute energy shortages.” It falls among the bank’s priority sectors in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, which also include infrastructure and the provision of municipal services, such as water and wastewater treatment.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.