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Unlocking sustainable investment with Africa is key priority for EU: Portuguese PM

‘Together, we share common goal of accelerating green transition, sustainable investment that builds better future after COVID-19 pandemic,’ says EIB President


Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa said, last Friday, that unlocking sustainable investment between Africa and Europe is a key priority for the European Union (EU) Presidency, which his country currently holds.

He noted that the step towards such sustainable investment would enable even closer partnership to deliver high-impact investments.

The Portuguese Prime Minister’s remarks came during a press conference on the sidelines of the high-level EU-Africa Green Investment Forum.

He asserted that during the Green Talks across Africa and Europe over recent weeks and in Lisbon last Friday, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and development partners had brought together insight and ideas from thousands of financial, technical, and environmental experts.

EIB President Werner Hoyer said, “The increasing dialogue between business, political and development partners is crucial to learn from each other and ensure that best-practice solutions learnt in Africa and Europe can enhance sustainable development to create economic opportunities and improve lives.” 

“Together, we share a common goal of accelerating the green transition and sustainable investment that builds a better future after the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” Hoyer also said. 

“The EIB has built a unique expertise in supporting sustainable investment across Africa,” he added, “At the EIB, we are committed to building on our record €5bn in engagement across Africa last year, and contribute to a better future for millions of people.” 

Hoyer said that, as highlighted both Lisbon, and by President Biden in Washington, it is high time for climate action to tackle climate change and environmental degradation. 

“Cooperation is essential to ensure a green and global recovery,” he asserted, “Through the EU-Africa Green Investment Forum and earlier Green Talks, the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU and EIB are sharing solutions that can accelerate a green and inclusive transition in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

In 2020, the EIB provided €5bn for new private and public investment across Africa. This represented the largest annual engagement by the bank in 55 years of operations on the continent, and the largest support for climate action and investment in fragile states.

Financing and technical support provided by the EIB in Africa last year is backing over €12bn of new investment to improve: agriculture; access to off-grid renewable energy and accelerating rural electrification; affordable housing; communications; climate resilience and climate insurance for small holders; healthcare; and private sector access to finance.  

Overall, the EIB’s backing for investment in Africa represented a 50% increase in engagement in the previous year. This reflected the rapid response to strengthen public health investment, ensure access to safe and affordable coronavirus vaccines through COVAX, and accelerated access to finance to increase economic resilience. It also aimed to help entrepreneurs and private business to withstand unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic.

“The EIB is fully engaged in supporting a green recovery for Africa through finance and expertise, also on the ground,” Werner said, “In recent weeks, ahead of the EU-Africa Green Investment Forum in Lisbon, the EU Bank and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU have brought together thousands of development partners across Africa in a series of Green Talk dialogues.” 

He noted that this reflects a great demonstration of how investment in Africa can and must deliver sustainable development building on best-practice. 

The latest EIB engagement directly supported 58 projects in 28 African countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, 71% of the new EIB engagement confirmed in 2020 is supporting investment in fragile states and least developed economies.

The new high impact projects backed by the EIB last year include securing access to clean drinking water for more than five million people in Egypt, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique and Tunisia.

It also includes connecting rural communities to clean energy across Chad, the Comoros, Gambia, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Uganda, whilst additionally transforming waste management in secondary towns across Senegal.

 Last year, the EIB provided €2.4bn for private sector investment across Africa. This included new initiatives with local financial partners and microfinance institutions to improve access to finance by small holders, entrepreneurs and businesses in Benin, Kenya, Mali, Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Malawi, Morocco, and Senegal.

Meanwhile, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the EIB has rapidly approved new support to strengthen public health and ensure entrepreneurs, business and agriculture can access finance during challenging times.

This included support for enabling a public health response to the pandemic in Benin, Niger, and Morocco, and reducing the risk of COVID-19 at public water supplies in Kenya.

The EIB also agreed to back Senegal’s national economic resilience initiative and accelerate private sector financing targeting sectors most impacted by the pandemic. This came in partnership with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and local financial institutions across Africa.

As part of Team Europe, in December 2020 the EIB provided €400m to help rapidly roll out COVAX supplies of affordable COVID-19 vaccines to Africa. 

This accelerated up-front investment has enabled vaccine deliveries in recent weeks across the continent and represents the largest ever EIB support for public health outside Europe.

The EIB stands ready to increase support for COVAX, alongside other donors enabling procurement of additional COVID-19 vaccines, and to overall strengthen vaccine manufacturing, diagnostics, and public health in low and middle-income countries.

Moreover, over two-thirds, or €3.4bn, of the new EIB financing in Africa in 2020 comes in support of climate action. This includes scaling up renewable energy and improving access to off-grid energy, improving energy efficiency and protecting urban areas and strategic infrastructure from extreme weather and a changing climate.

Topics: africa EU Portuguese

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