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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

EU lending arm positions itself for full EA unity

The European Investment Bank is seeking to strengthen its presence in the East African Community as the region prepares to enter the next phase of integration — the Monetary Union. The EIB is the long-term lending institution of the European Union. In the past five years, it has strengthened its presence in the region by setting up a permanent base in Nairobi, which now acts as the regional hub for East and Central Africa.“While we have been in the region for the past 40 years, we moved in permanently in 2005 and set up a permanent presence in Nairobi,” Vice President Plutarchos Sakellaris said. He was touring East Africa last week to inspect various development projects that the bank supports.Development aid from the European Union to EAC is also increasing, with Mr Plutarchos saying the region’s focus on infrastructure development is in line with the bank’s plans. On July 1, the EAC transformed into a Common Market. The region has a large market of about 130 million people. Last year, EIB achieved an all-time high of $99.3 billion in loan signatures.Out of this, about $11.31 billion went to countries outside the EU, including Africa where EIB operates under the Cotonou Agreement.Since 2005, the Vice President said, the Bank has provided more than $1.12 billion for projects in the region, with the energy sector the largest beneficiary (52 per cent of project funding). Out of the $1.12 billion the bank invested in the region, $282.7 million (25 per cent) was lent to Kenya. Mr Plutarchos was speaking at an event to launch a $6.03 million EIB support programme for the upgrading of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, East Africa’s leading transport hub.

Source: European Investment Bank