The International Finance Corporation  (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, announced in a press statement on Wednesday that it committed $3 billion last year to support economic development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
”IFC combined those investments with a broad range of advisory services to support the region’s private sector at a time when many countries are struggling with unemployment and slow economic growth,” it said in the press statement.
It added: “IFC’s work helped boost investor confidence, support smaller businesses, and combat climate change, among a host of other important initiatives.”
According to the IFC, the $3 billion committed during the 2013 fiscal year, which ended June 30, includes $914 million mobilised from other investors.
“Governments across the region are facing fiscal constraints and they can no longer carry the burden of economic growth alone,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC director for MENA. “IFC has been working hard to unlock the power of the private sector, which has the potential to create jobs, spur development, and provide the economic opportunities people are clamouring for.”
As part of those efforts, IFC invested $647 million to support infrastructure projects across the region, half of which was mobilisation. Investments included $65 million in financing to help expand cell phone and Internet services in Afghanistan, and a $70 million investment in Iraq’s crucial cement industry.
IFC also provided a $500 million debt facility for natural gas producer Petroceltic, which will help the company expand operations in Egypt and Algeria.
IFC is spearheading efforts to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The organisation invested $150 million in the MENA SME Facility to boost lending to smaller businesses and lined up $230 million in funding from other donors and international finance institutions.
During the last fiscal year, IFC has ramped up its efforts to combat climate change. The organisation signed an agreement with Masdar, a United Arab Emirates-based company, to provide funding for clean energy projects.
In Pakistan, IFC is advising one of the country’s leading utility companies on the construction of a pioneering biogas plant that will turn animal waste into energy.
The biogas project was part of IFC’s advisory services programme, which works with companies to promote good corporate governance, helps governments streamline business regulations, and provides training to small-scale entrepreneurs, among other things.
“During last year, the IFC launched 34 of these advisory projects worth a total of $37 million,” the statement indicated.
It concluded by saying that In Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, IFC rolled out the E4E Initiative for Arab Youth, a programme designed to help equip youth with the skills and education in demand among employers.