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The EU’s bank in Africa steps up the action

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Friday, 21 September 2018

The EU’s bank in Africa steps up the action

Whether or not Jean-Claude Juncker’s plans for a “partnership of equals” with Africa becomes reality any time soon, the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank will have an ever-increasing role in the continent. The External Investment Programme (EIP) promises to leverage €44 billion of investment, predominantly in Africa, by 2020, commitments that may now be stepped up following Juncker’s State of the Union speech last week. The EIB has been steadily expanding its operations in East Africa in recent years, opening a bureau in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa alongside its long-standing office in Kenya. But while most talk in Brussels tends to focus on the amount of cash available, it is not only a question of having more money to lend but having the means to lend it, Catherine Collin, the EIB’s East Africa bureau chief in Nairobi, tells EURACTIV. “In the region of East Africa, we signed just over €400 million of projects in 2017 compared to €100 million in the previous year. €400 million may not look huge but it’s not a bad amount for us outside the EU,” says Collin, pointing out that the vast majority of the bank’s activities are within the bloc. Collin suggests that domestic political constraints are the main block on financing. “A problem we have in the region and in Sub-Saharan Africa in general, is of very low absorptive capacity of the state,” she says. “It varies but last year we signed a dozen deals, which is rather exceptional. If we can do on average five or six per year for the region that would be good, but it would be good if we could do more,” she adds.

Source: euractiv.com