EBRD sets ambitious goals for 2019 as it steps up support for 2030 global development agenda

By Anthony Williams
@ebrdtony


EBRD financed 395 projects worth a total of €9.5 billion

  • EBRD investment in 2018 near record level with €9.5 billion in 395 projects
  • First investments in Lebanon and in West Bank and Gaza
  • Strong delivery in green finance with 36 per cent of investment

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has set ambitious goals for 2019 in support of the global development agenda after another year of strong delivery in the 38 emerging economies in which it invests across three continents.

The Bank overcame significant economic challenges in a number of countries to maintain an excellent level of investment and backing for reforms in 2018. It financed 395 projects worth a total of €9.5 billion, very close to the 2017 record of €9.7 billion.

At its Annual Meeting in Jordan in May 2018, EBRD shareholders asked the Bank to do even more with existing capital to increase investments in existing countries to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals the international community has pledged to deliver by 2030.

The EBRD responded with a plan that sees the Bank making an even greater impact in its regions. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti told Bank staff this week the EBRD would raise both the quality and the quantity of its investments over the next two years. He was confident the Bank would achieve these ambitious goals.  

At the 2019 Annual Meeting, in May in Sarajevo, shareholders will decide whether to investigate possible further expansion -- outside the current regions of activity.

2018 was a year during which the EBRD extended its broad international shareholder base that already stretches across five continents. India  became the Bank’s 69th member and San Marino signed up to take a stake.

The EBRD also continued last year to work towards its climate finance goals, devoting 36 percent of its total investments to the green economy. The Bank is well on the way to meeting a target of dedicating a 40 percent share of investments to the green economy by 2020.

It underscored its green credentials with the launch of a new energy strategy that pledges to scale up investment in renewables, completely rule out financing for coal and restrict financing in upstream oil to exceptional projects, which reduce harmful greenhouse gases.

The EBRD also quadrupled the size of its Green Cities programme in support of environmentally friendly municipal investments to almost €1 billion. 

The donor community showed great support for the work of the Bank, making available over a half a billion euros of co-financing, including €413 million in grants and €170 million in concessional loans to deepen the impact and sustainability of EBRD projects across its regions.

The EBRD continues its strong cooperation with donors to support development and reforms. They include, among others, the European Union, the Green Climate Fund, the Clean Technology Fund and national governments.

The EBRD continued to invest strongly in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. Its financing for Egypt included funding to reduce extreme levels of pollution for the six million people living in the Kitchener Drain area of the Nile Delta.

Elsewhere in the region, the EBRD made its first investments in Lebanon in 2018, including the acquisition of a stake in Bank Audi, the country’s largest commercial lender. 

It also started operating in the West Bank and Gaza, providing finance to support small businesses, helping build capacity at the Palestinian Monetary Authority and developing the economy’s commercial links with support from the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme.

In a particularly challenging year in Turkey, where an economic slowdown and significant currency depreciation affected many private sector companies, a third of the EBRD’s €1 billion financing was in the Turkish lira or in support of local capital market development.

The Bank made an important contribution to energy security with its investment in the Trans Adriatic Pipeline that is helping forge energy links along the Southern Gas Corridor linking Asia with Europe and helping to promote the switch away from use of coal.

In another key investment that supported infrastructure links in south eastern Europe, the EBRD brought in significant amounts of private finance to fund a major modernisation of the Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade, Serbia’s main air transportation hub that serves the country and the wider region.

The EBRD invested strongly in Uzbekistan in 2018, reengaging in the country after a gap of nearly eight years in response to political changes that had ushered in a programme of reforms. Investments in Uzbekistan included US$ 333 million (€262 million) for projects bringing improved water, electricity and heating supplies to hundreds of thousands of people.

In response to a request from authorities in Greece, shareholders decided in December 2018 to extend the Bank’s mandate in the country for another five years until 2025, allowing the EBRD to continue supporting the Greek private sector, improving competitiveness and strengthening the regional integration of the local economy.

In Moldova, the EBRD facilitated a major breakthrough in the banking sector, joining with two equity  firms to buy a significant stake in the country’s largest bank, Moldova-Agroindbank, and supporting  Romania’s Banca Transilvania when it invested in Victoriabank in steps that helped bring stability to a sector previously rocked by fraud and money-laundering.

With the launch of its Women in Business programme in Morocco in 2018, the EBRD extended its support for women entrepreneurs across its regions. Since its launch in 2014, the EBRD initiative has provided women entrepreneurs with more than €485 million in cooperation with over 30 financial institutions in 18 countries and improved their access to advisory services, skills development training and business networks.