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EBRD shareholders back expansion to sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq

By Nibal Zgheib

  • The EBRD’s Governors approve amendment to the Bank’s statutes to allow for a limited and incremental expansion to sub-Saharan Africa
  • Governors’ resolution also adds Iraq to the EBRD’s southern and eastern Mediterranean region
  • Process launched whereby the Bank will be able to invest, for the first time, in up to six sub-Saharan African countries, starting in 2025

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The Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved amendments to the Bank’s statutes to enable the limited and incremental expansion of its operations to sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq.

The decision, taken at the EBRD’s 2023 Annual Meeting in Samarkand, reflects the growing economic links between the Bank’s current countries of operations and sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq and its potential for developing the private sector in those economies.

“This is a very important moment for the Bank,” EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said. “Our distinct business model provides real added value which can complement the work of existing development partners and accelerate transition in sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq. This decision also reaffirms our shareholders’ commitment to the global development agenda.”

Under the terms of the resolution adopted today, applications for recipient country status will be considered after the ratification and entry into force of the relevant amendment to Article 1 of the EBRD’s statutes. Any applications received would be assessed through the Bank’s established governance procedures.

As such, the Bank does not envisage making any investments in these new countries before 2025, allowing more time to prepare for successful delivery when it does become operational there.  

From 2025 to 2030, the EBRD will be able to invest in up to six countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Preparatory analysis undertaken by the Bank has showed that the EBRD’s mandate and business model would fit most appropriately in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal, should they wish to apply. These six countries will be formally notified of the Governors’ decision.

Iraq will join the Bank’s southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the West Bank and Gaza), to which the country has strong economic links.  

The EBRD started working in the SEMED region in 2011, where it has so far invested close to €19 billion in 363 projects supporting the private sector and sustainable development.

The Bank’s most urgent and immediate priority remains supporting Ukraine, where the EBRD is the largest institutional investor, having committed to deploying €3 billion in 2022-23.

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