EBRD Board Directors to visit Kosovo on 3-5 February

By Vanora Bennett

Loan to Kosovo’s BpB boosts SME competitiveness

  • EBRD Directors on three-day visit will meet PM, Finance Minister, Mayor of Pristina
  • Visit comes as EBRD seeks to boost investment in Kosovo
  • EBRD investment in Western Balkans topped €1 billion in 2018

A delegation of the EBRD Board of Directors will arrive in Pristina on Sunday for a visit to Kosovo, which will offer the Bank’s representatives the opportunity to meet with the authorities at state level. The Directors will also get together with international officials, civil society representatives, investors and entrepreneurs. From Kosovo the Directors will continue their mission on Tuesday with a visit to neighbouring FYR Macedonia.

The visit from 3-5 February will include meetings with Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Finance Minister and EBRD Governor Bedri Hamza, Minister of Economic Development Valdrin Lluka, and Mayor of Pristina Shpend Ahmeti, as well as international financial institutions and other development partners and civil society organisations. The Directors will visit clients financed by the EBRD including outside the capital in Prizren.

The delegation will be hosted by Patrick Walsh, Director for Ireland, Denmark, Lithuania and Kosovo. Members will be Wioletta Barwicka-Lofthouse, Director for Poland, Bulgaria and Albania, Jörgen Frotzler, Director for Sweden, Iceland and Estonia, Shinichi Nakabayashi, Director for Japan, Leander Treppel, Director for Austria, Israel, Cyprus, Malta, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Frans Weekers, Director for the Netherlands, China, Mongolia, FYR Macedonia and Armenia, Milan Martin Cvikl, Alternate Director for Belgium, Slovenia, and Luxembourg, Martina Kobilicová, Alternate Director for Hungary, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Georgia, and Ilkka Räisänen, Alternate Director for Norway, Finland, Latvia and Lebanon.

The EBRD has invested €362 million in 63 projects in Kosovo to date, with a recent average of €50 million a year. Its focus is on regional connectivity and infrastructure development, support for small and medium-sized enterprises, environmental improvement and supporting Kosovo in increasing its energy inputs.

This visit comes as the EBRD plans to scale up investment in Kosovo - to levels nearer €100 million a year – over the next few years.

In the past two months alone, under the Kosovo SME Competitiveness Support Programme that aims to help small firms move towards EU standards, the EBRD has made two significant loans. In December, it provided a €5 million loan to Kosovo’s Banka per Biznes (BPB). In mid-January, it lent €20 million – its biggest single private sector signing in Kosovo – to ProCredit Bank Kosovo, a key provider of finance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Both loans are for on-lending to SME clients to boost their competitiveness and are coupled with grants for businesses provided by the EU.

The EBRD also strongly supports the expansion of renewables in Kosovo, particularly wind power. Building on the successful urban transport project with EBRD finance, the city of Pristina signed up to the EBRD Green Cities urban environmental improvement programme last November. This year the Bank also expects to sign the financing for a waste water treatment plant, which will be the Bank’s first municipal project outside the capital.

In 2018, the EBRD underscored its commitment to the Western Balkans region with new investments of over €1.1 billion in 67 projects. This follows a total of 57 projects for just under €700 million the previous year. The Bank also intensified its policy engagement in the region further and hosted the third Western Balkans Investment Summit, bringing together all six prime minister from the region at the Bank’s Headquarters in London. The EBRD’s 2019 Annual Meeting will take place in Sarajevo on 8 and 9 May 2019.

The EBRD has worked in Kosovo since 1999. Kosovo became an EBRD member and country of operations in December 2012.