EBRD President Mirow sees possible annual investments in North Africa of up to €3 billion

By Anthony Williams

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EBRD President Thomas Mirow has said the Bank could envisage investing up to 3 billion euros a year in North Africa if shareholders gave a green light to extending its mandate to that region.

The EBRD is already considering a request by Egypt to become a recipient of EBRD investments and the European Union has encouraged the Bank's shareholders to extend investments to the wider north African region.

President Mirow told the Jeff Randall Live programme on Sky News on Thursday that if shareholders agreed to such a move the Bank had the resources eventually to invest 2-1/2 to 3 billion euros a year in the region.

In addition to Egypt, which is already a founding shareholder of the EBRD, Morocco - another shareholder - has expressed a strong interest in receiving EBRD financing.

Other countries that have experienced political change in the region, such as Tunisia, would have to become EBRD members before seeking EBRD financing.

President Mirow made clear that any decision in favour of extending the geographic mandate would depend on relevant countries undertaking democratic reforms. The EBRD has also said that the Bank would only invest in new countries if commitments to existing EBRD countries were upheld and if there were no call on shareholders for additional capital.

Any EBRD activity in the region would also complement lending by other IFIs with the EBRD bringing its niche skills of promoting the private sector. Other IFIs, including the African Development Bank, have said they would welcome the involvement of the EBRD.

The issue of potential EBRD investment in Egypt and the wider region will be discussed by the EBRD’s Board of Governors at the EBRD’s 2011 Annual Meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 20-21 May.

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