The European Investment Bank, the world’s largest multilateral bank, today confirmed its firm commitment to respond to the Ebola pandemic. In advance of the high-level international conference being convened in Brussels this week, Europe’s long-term lending institution outlined the broad nature of its engagement that includes support for development of a vaccine and backing for key infrastructure in West African states impacted by Ebola. Through the EIB Institute, the philanthropic arm of the European Investment Bank, support has also been provided for humanitarian relief on the ground.
“Even before the Ebola pandemic West Africa faced huge economic and social challenges. Since the start of the crisis the European Investment Bank has responded by backing investment in countries most impacted by Ebola as well as supporting accelerated development of a vaccine for the virus. The international community cannot abandon West Africa in this time of need and must continue to demonstrate firm engagement.” said Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President.
“This week’s high-level conference will ensure effective engagement by international and local partners and Europe’s long-term lending institution will do all it can to assist and build upon more than 50 years of engagement in West Africa. The European Investment Bank has seized this opportunity to strengthen support for long-term economic and social recovery that will ensure a stronger future for West Africa.” he added.
The EIB delegation attending the high-level Ebola conference will meet with the President of Sierra Leone and representatives of other West African states impacted by Ebola. The delegation is led by the bank’s Vice President responsible for West Africa and includes financial and technical staff with experience of supporting investment in the region and working with international partners.
At the IMF / World Bank meetings last October, EIB President Werner Hoyer, in his capacity as Chairman of the Multilateral Development Banks, confirmed to the Presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea that the EIB would focus on providing support that drew on the bank’s unique expertise of supporting long-term investment in Africa.
The EIB has since been working with a range of partners including the European Commission, EU Member States, the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank and other African and international partners to tackle the crisis through the provision of much-needed finance. The EIB expects to further strengthen cooperation with other development finance institutions to support infrastructure projects essential for economic and social development in the region. Preparation and evaluation of financing proposals will be streamlined to reduce duplication of due diligence and ensure accelerated assessment.
In December the board of the EIB, comprising representatives of all 28 EU member states, approved a EUR 50 million loan to international biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic, for research and accelerated development of an Ebola vaccine. The company has since announced the first human trials of an Ebola vaccine in conjunction with Oxford University and expects to produce 2 million doses needed for scaling up trials of the vaccine.
In West African states most impacted by the Ebola pandemic the EIB is also currently supporting new investment in crucial transport and energy infrastructure.
This has included restarting operations in Guinea, the first lending to be agreed in more than a decade by the EIB, with support for redevelopment of four hydropower plants at Grand Chutes, Donkea, Baneah and Garafiri that will significantly increase power generation and distribution capacity in the country. Once operational the scheme will help both medical treatment and economic activity.
In Liberia the EIB is providing nearly EUR 20 million to support upgrading of the runway and safety equipment at Monrovia airport. This is represents the first EIB operation with the Liberian Airports Authority and follows recent support for improving electricity generation in Liberia through backing for rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant. Monrovia Airport is a key gateway for aid workers and humanitarian assistance in Liberia.
In Sierra Leone, the EIB is supporting work to strengthen of electricity connections between the three countries worst affected by Ebola and is working with other lenders to ensure that technical implementation of the project can progress in spite of current challenges.
The EIB is also working with Access Bank Liberia to support private sector investment that will benefit smaller businesses and microfinance activities in parts of the country impacted by Ebola. This will increase opportunities for entrepreneurs to expand operations and create jobs as well as support healthcare projects.
Last year the European Investment Bank provided more than EUR 2.5 billion for long-term investment in energy, water, transport and education projects, as well as supporting private sector investment, across Africa.