EBRD invests over €1.4 billion in the SEMED region

By Nibal Zgheib

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In 2015 the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) invested over €1.4 billion in 37 projects across the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, where it began investment operations in 2012. The investments were made in the energy and renewable energy sectors, as well as in infrastructure, agribusiness and small and medium-sized enterprises.

The total EBRD investment in the four SEMED countries – Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia – since 2012 reached 3.4 billion in 83 projects, 70 per cent of this in the private sector.

Hildegard Gacek, EBRD Managing Director for the SEMED region, said: “EBRD investment in these four countries has accelerated, reflecting the significant role that we can play across all sectors of the economy. Our support extends from family-owned firms to ports and power plants and is accompanied by technical assistance and policy dialogue to improve the business environment and to encourage further investments in the private sector.”

Supporting renewable energy, the EBRD launched a US$ 250 million financing framework for private sector renewable-energy generation in a region that still relies overwhelmingly on imported fossil fuels.

In its efforts to help tackle acute energy shortages in Egypt, the EBRD provided a US$ 200 million loan to the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) for the construction of a new 1.8 GW combined-cycle gas-fired power plant in Damanhour, north west of Cairo.

To ease the pressure caused by the refugee crisis in the Middle East, the EBRD provided a loan of up to US$ 14 million enabling the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) to carry out an urgently needed upgrade of the sewerage network. WAJ will construct a wastewater pipeline from East Zarqa pumping station to As-Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant which will increase the network’s capacity and reduce the risk of water pollution in the Zarqa area.

In Morocco the Bank invested €200 million in Nador West Med to build infrastructure for a new port on the Mediterranean coast, contributing to the economic development of the country’s north-eastern Oriental region.

Joining international efforts to clean up Tunisia’s Lake Bizerte, an EBRD loan of €20 million, supported by technical assistance, is helping to expand and upgrade the sewerage network of the adjacent Bizerte region, which has a population of around 400,000. The project will also upgrade three wastewater treatment plants located near the lake. Improvement in the water quality of the lake will have a positive impact on the development of tourism and aquaculture.

Egypt is likely to see slightly better economic conditions in 2016, with projected growth of around 4.3 per cent. However, the outlook is less favourable for Jordan due to the deteriorating regional situation and the influx of Syrian refugees. Growth is also likely to slow in Morocco and Tunisia.

Across the whole EBRD region, the Bank responded to another challenging year in 2015 by delivering very strong impact on the ground in the countries where it operates, through record investments of €9.4 billion in 381 individual projects.

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