International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested and mobilised more than $1.6bn in Central Asia region in fiscal year 2023 (the 12 months ended June 30, 2023), its highest ever in the region.
In a September 7 press release, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said its investment outlay would enhance growth, upgrade regional connectivity and build climate resilience. In the region, it said, IFC was also involved in efforts to boost financial inclusion, structure groundbreaking public-private partnership (PPP) projects and promote gender diversity.
In Uzbekistan, where IFC has its largest portfolio in Central Asia, IFC invested and mobilised $1.57bn in the fiscal year, its highest commitment since operations began there in 1993. That included $49mn for the country's inaugural wind power project, the Zarafshon power plant, due to be operational in 2025, and a $150mn financing package, as well as close to $1bn in mobilisation, for a modern thermal power plant in the Syrdarya region.
The projects will help meet the country's growing demand for energy while supporting decarbonisation and energy transition efforts, IFC said.
In Kazakhstan, IFC provided $15mn to KazFoodProducts, the country's leading agribusiness group, to support its growth and create jobs while bolstering food security in the region.
IFC's $20mn loan to KMF, a microfinance organisation in Kazakhstan, helped it support 247,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including many in remote areas. Meanwhile, the construction of Almaty Ring Road was completed, improving the country's transit potential and reducing travel times by up to an hour. The IFC-supported project represents Central Asia's first PPP.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, IFC, started to advise the government on structuring and tendering an up to 150-megawatt solar plant under the Scaling Solar program, aimed at diversifying the country's energy mix and increasing its renewable power capacity to meet the growing domestic and regional demand. IFC has also been supporting the Kyrgyz government in designing a competitive tender for a PPP to invest in the infrastructure of Manas International Airport with an established airport operator.
IFC provided more than $35mn to local financial institutions in Kyrgyzstan to improve access to finance for women-owned microenterprises and micro-housing in rural areas of the country. Nearly 200,000 low-income individuals were able to improve their homes with support from an IFC initiative in the country, IFC said.
"The private sector is a powerful engine of economic and social development, as IFC's work in the region demonstrates," said Wiebke Schloemer, IFC's director for Turkey and Central Asia. "We are eager to build on this impact and continue working with our partners in the region to deliver transformative projects that help improve lives, create jobs and foster sustainable growth."
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