The European Investment Bank (EIB) provided €5 billion in finances for new private and public investments across Africa in 2020.
The sum is the largest annual EIB engagement in 55 years of operations in the continent and the largest support for climate action and investment in fragile states, the EIB said.
The news was announced on the sidelines of the EU-Africa Green Investment Forum on Friday in Lisbon.
The finances, alongside technical support, back more than €12 billion of new investments to improve agriculture and access to off-grid renewable energy. They are also meant to accelerate rural electrification, affordable housing, communications, climate resilience, climate insurance for small holders, healthcare, and private sector access to finance in the continent, according to the EIB.
They also represented a 50 percent increase in engagement compared to 2019.
The EIB move reflected the rapid response to strengthen public health investment, ensure access to safe and affordable COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, and accelerated access to finance to increase economic resilience. The investments target helping entrepreneurs and private business to withstand unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic, said the EIB.
“The EIB is fully engaged in supporting a green recovery for Africa through finance and expertise, also on the ground. In recent weeks, ahead of the EU-Africa Green Investment Forum, 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. This is a great demonstration of how investment in Africa can and must deliver sustainable development building on best-practice,” said Werner Hoyer, the president of the EIB.
The EIB engagement directly supported 58 projects in 28 African countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, 71 percent of the new EIB engagement confirmed in 2020 is supporting investment in fragile states and least developed economies.
Since the outbreak 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.
As part of Team Europe, in December 2020, the EIB provided €400 million to help to rapidly roll out COVAX supplies of affordable COVID-19 vaccines to Africa. The amount 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,” said the EIB.
Moreover, €3.4 billon – over two-thirds – of the EIB financing in Africa in 2020 is supporting climate action, including scaling up renewable energy and improving access to off-grid energy, boosting energy efficiency, and protecting urban areas and strategic infrastructure from extreme weather and a changing climate.
At the end of 2020 the EIB reached its target of unlocking €1 billion of new investments to support gender equality and female entrepreneurs through the SheInvest initiative.
The initiative was launched in Johannesburg in November 2019 and is guided by the global 2X gender financing standards.
SheInvest is helping to transform gender equality and demonstrates the impact of gender-focused lending to increase the participation of women and girls in the economy and labour market.
On 23 April, United Nations Secretary-General Antionio Guterres and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the EU-Africa Green Investment Forum, hosted by EU Portuguese Presidency and the EIB. The forum brought together more than 1,000 participants, both in Lisbon and online, from across the world to share sustainable investments' best practices, including through catalysing digitalisation and strengthening economic resilience.
The EU-Africa Green Investment Forum is the largest event for dialogue focused on investment in Africa to take place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.