The Arab Financing Facility for Infrastructure (AFFI) held its second policy forum on April 16-17, 2012 in Marrakesh, Morocco one year after its official launch in Amman, Jordan. A partnership between the World Bank (IBRD), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), AFFI is an integrated facility which aims at fostering infrastructure development and regional integration in Arab countries via Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).
Over 250 participants and representatives of governments from 13 Arab countries, bilateral and multilateral financial institutions and international, regional and local representatives of the private sector discussed and framed solutions to address the challenges of infrastructure development in the Arab World.
The Forum concluded its two-day work sessions with a number of recommendations for both public and private partners to carry out to enhance infrastructure development in the region."The high-level interest in this policy forum indicates a deep recognition that much more needs to be done on infrastructure in the Arab world and fast," said Jonathan Walters, Director, Regional Programs and Partnerships, Middle East and North Africa Region, World Bank.
The event, held in partnership with the Moroccan ministry of Economy and finance was officially opened by a speech from the Moroccan Secretary general on behalf of the minister of Economy and Finance, Mr Nizar Baraka, who underlined that the "countries from the region need to reinforce their cooperation in order to speed up the development of infrastructure and enable populations to have access to quality public services". He added that "public and private sectors are invited to coordinate their efforts for the achievement of regional integrated projects".
The Forum presented the rationale for involving private sector in infrastructure investment in the region and explored different countries priorities in these areas, including how such development can contribute to regional integration and economic growth. It also considered the lessons learnt from successful PPP experiences in delivering tangible results on the ground and improving population access to quality infrastructure service.
The role of infrastructure development in achieving economic growth was particularly underlined by participants, considering infrastructure as a lever to create job opportunities, open up marginalized areas to development and also to eventually have a positive impact on trade, consumers price reduction and better access to water, electricity, telecommunications and roads. Walid Abdelwahab, Director of Infrastructure in IsDB said in this regard that "the MENA region needs to invest $70 to 100bn per year per year to make up its infrastructure deficit and AFFI can help mobilize governments and the private sector to work hand in hand and develop high quality infrastructure projects using the PPP model."
AFFI has the ambition to become one of the main tools to support infrastructure development in the Arab region and is set up as an open platform aimed at supporting infrastructure projects through improvements in policies, advisory services and financing tools for the private and public sector. It is expanding its original platform of multilateral partners of IFC, IsDB and the World Bank to further mobilize capacities and support public and private partnerships.
In this perspective, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and IFC, concluded a signing ceremony for EIB`s participation into one of AFFI`s major component, the Technical Assistance Facility (TAF). This funding will support the TAF`s goal to provide advisory services to the public sector in the institutional set up, feasibilities and preparation of PPP projects and programs.
EIB`s vice-president, Philippe de Fontaine Vive, said that "EIB membership to AFFI is in line with EIB`s support to investments in social and economic development in the Mediterranean region and PPPs can play a significant role to meet the increasing infrastructure needs of Southern and Eastern Mediterranean people". He added that "EIB`s support to AFFI`s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) window is the logical extension of the measures taken by the EIB over the past few years for promoting PPP through the European PPP Expertise Center (EPEC) and the Femip Trust Fund."
In parallel and to develop the financing tools of AFFI and in particular its private financing window, IFC and IsDB signed an agreement to invest up to $100 million in a USD 300-500 million mezzanine fund on behalf of the Arab Infrastructure Investment Fund (AIIV) that is one of AFFI`s components . The AIIV is being created to support the infrastructure projects across the Middle East and North Africa. IFC and Islamic Development Bank are investing $50 million each. Mr Gulrez Hoda, IFC infrastructure director for the Europe and MENA region expressed his satisfaction in reinforcing AFFI`s mechanisms and said that "this investment will increase AFFI`s ability to support infrastructure investments in the MENA region by diversifying the Facility`s financing instruments and ability to respond to different financing gaps".
World Bank, IFC
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