International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has demonstrated its confidence in the growth potential of Central Asia by investing an astonishing $1.6 billion in the region during fiscal year 2023 (FY23). This investment is the highest ever made by the IFC in the region and aims to promote growth, enhance regional connectivity, and build climate resilience.
Uzbekistan, which houses the IFC’s most substantial portfolio in Central Asia, received a remarkable commitment of $1.568 billion, marking the highest inflow since the IFC began operations in 1993. A significant portion of this funding, $49 million, is dedicated to the Zarafshon wind power project, expected to be operational by 2025.
Furthermore, the Syrdarya region will witness the construction of a state-of-the-art thermal power plant, supported by a strong financing package of $150 million from the IFC, along with mobilization of nearly $1 billion.
In neighboring Kazakhstan, the IFC has focused on agribusiness and microfinance. KazFoodProducts, the country’s leading agribusiness group, received a boost of $15 million to stimulate growth and ensure food security. Additionally, a loan of $20 million was given to KMF, a prominent microfinance organization, empowering 247,000 micro and medium enterprises. With the support of the IFC, the Almaty Ring Road, Central Asia’s groundbreaking public-private partnership project, has been completed, significantly enhancing the country’s transit capabilities.
The Kyrgyz Republic has appointed the IFC as the lead transaction advisor. The nation aims to diversify its energy sources with a proposed 150-megawatt solar plant as part of the Scaling Solar program, and the IFC’s expertise will be crucial in structuring and tendering this project. Efforts are also underway for a competitive public-private partnership tender for the infrastructure of Manas International Airport. In line with its commitment to gender equity, the IFC has invested over $35 million to support women-owned microenterprises, positively impacting nearly 200,000 low-income individuals.
Tajikistan has also benefited from the IFC’s commitment, with financial institutions like Imon International and Eskhata Bank receiving a total of $15 million to support thousands of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.
Wiebke Schloemer, IFC’s Director for Turkey and Central Asia, commented on this significant financial investment, stating, “The private sector remains a strong driver of socioeconomic growth. Our recent efforts in Central Asia highlight this belief.”
In line with the evolving global landscape, the IFC remains steadfast in its mission. Their upcoming strategy focuses on crucial sectors such as agribusiness, infrastructure, and financial services, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and climate change adaptation.
The IFC is a global development institution dedicated to the private sector in emerging markets. With operations in over 100 countries, the IFC’s expertise has played a vital role in shaping markets and creating opportunities in developing countries. The record-breaking commitment of $43.7 billion in FY23 reflects their mission to harness the power of the private sector in addressing the mounting challenges of global compounded crises.
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