The EBRD continued its support for the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region in 2018 with new investments worth €2 billion in more than 50 projects of which 70 percent were in the private sector. This builds on €2.1 billion of investments in 60 projects in the previous year.
2018 marked the first investments by the Bank in Lebanon and in the West Bank and Gaza. In Lebanon, the EBRD acquired a stake in Bank Audi, the country’s largest commercial lender and signed a US$ 100 million Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF). In addition, the EBRD subscribed with US$ 15 million to Fransabank’s bond to boost green economy and extended a US$20 million financial package for BUTEC Utility Services S.A.L. to address Lebanon’s urgent energy supply crisis by improving the reliability and efficiency of the distribution grid.
In the West Bank and Gaza, the EBRD provided finance to support small businesses, helped capacity building at the Palestinian Monetary Authority and the development of commercial links with support from the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme.
2018 was a record year for Egypt, which became the largest EBRD country of operations with a total investment volume of €1.15 billion in 19 projects. EBRD financing for Egypt included funding to reduce extreme levels of pollution for the six million people living in the Kitchener Drain area of the Nile Delta.
In the SEMED region, 40 percent of the Bank’s investments were in the green economy.
In Jordan, the Bank supported the country in its next important step to boost the role of renewables in the energy mix by providing a US$ 265 million long-term loan to the National Electric Power Company.
With a focus on gender, the Bank launched its Women in Business programme in Morocco and extended funds to BMCE Bank of Africa and BMCI to strengthen the country’s economy by unleashing the potential of women entrepreneurs.
In Tunisia, the bank approved a new country strategy for the next five years and provided €75 million to the national sanitation utility ONAS to upgrade water infrastructure in 33 small municipalities and to alleviate environmental pollution and health risks.
Supporting small businesses in the SEMED region, one third of the Bank’s investments were in local currency and it provided advisory support to 586 small enterprises in 2018.
The region also continued to benefit from strong donor support, including from the European Union, the EBRD SEMED Multi Donor Account*, the Green Climate Fund, Global Concessional Financing Facility, the MENA Transition Fund and other bilateral and multilateral donors.
Overall, the EBRD 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.
*The donors of the SEMED MDA are: Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taipei China