The EBRD is actively developing open and sustainable market economies and boosting growth in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza. Its focus has been on making the economies of the southern and eastern Mediterranean region more competitive and resilient, fostering expansion of the private sector and promoting policy dialogue.
The EBRD has invested over €5 billion in more than 130 projects in the region to date. Additionally it has invested well over €250 million in technical assistance funded by EBRD donors and shareholders.
The EBRD has also made significant contributions to the international efforts to tackle the refugee crisis caused by the civil war in Syria. The priority has been helping host countries in the SEMED region cope with the economic strains of large-scale migration and engaging the private sector to provide sustainable livelihoods for refugees.
To support its activities, the EBRD opened permanent offices in Tunis and Amman in 2013 and Cairo in 2014. It also opened permanent offices in Casablanca in April 2015.
The first EBRD SEMED Business Forum was held in Shkirat, Morocco in November 2015. The forum highlighted the strong potential for investment in the region, underscoring the EBRD’s support for economic growth and reforms.
Alongside governments of the region, the EBRD focuses on supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), boosting agribusiness, improving banking services, creating local capital markets and supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
In addition, the EBRD works on promoting gender equality and inclusion through its Women in Business programme. One of the programme’s initiatives is working with the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) to strengthen the role of female entrepreneurs in the Egyptian economy. This involves providing a comprehensive package of financial and technical support for Egyptian women who are either starting up or expanding their businesses.
The EBRD has been called on by the international community to help tackle the refugee crisis caused by the civil war in Syria. The response strategy has been drafted, which aims to support the host communities by addressing infrastructure challenges, supporting small business initiatives and employment opportunities, especially to the young by the development of labour- intensive small and medium sized enterprise.
With a financing package of €900 million, the EBRD will be able to invest up to €500 million in new transactions subject to mobilising an additional €400 million in grants and it is preparing projects in the private sector and infrastructure to support the refugee hosting communities in Jordan and Turkey.
In addition, the EBRD will provide support and expertise through policy dialogue, capacity building and other forms of technical assistance.
Video: Bringing power to rural Morocco
The EBRD and its donors are backing the government’s investment plan to bring 24/7 electricity access to over 1200 rural villages in Morocco for the very first time.
The EBRD’s expansion into the SEMED region began in May 2011 in the aftermath of the Arab uprising.
Under the Deauville Partnership, the G8 countries announced their backing to countries witnessing dramatic political change and requested the EBRD’s support, describing it as a “unique instrument” in its work in “central and eastern European countries engaged in the same dynamics”.
“The changes underway in the Middle East and North Africa are historic and have the potential to open the door to the kind of transformation that occurred in central and eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” the G8 declared in its statement on the “Arab Spring” approved at Deauville in May 2011.
The EBRD responded swiftly to this call from the international community to become part of the SEMED region’s transition to a more efficient and sustainable market economy.
The EBRD’s shareholders agreed on 30 September 2011 to extend the geographical mandate to the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Donors to the EBRD, including the European Union and contributors to the SEMED Multi-Donor Account, supported the first phase of the EBRD’s involvement in the new region through technical cooperation activities in preparation for investment projects.
During this early period of engagement, the EBRD also staged successful conferences under its Transition to Transition (T2T) Initiative, a forum that provided for an exchange of knowledge and experiences between the SEMED region and countries where the EBRD had already been investing for many years.
In 2012, the EBRD’s shareholders approved the creation of a €1 billion special fund to launch investments in the four countries before it started using its own capital.
Lebanon joined the EBRD as a shareholder in July 2017 and became a country of operations in September of the same year.