>@A.-L. Gaffuri/EIB
©A.-L. Gaffuri/EIB
  • The EIB loan, guaranteed by the EU budget, enables the Maldives to establish a modern national health laboratory and expand regional hospitals on atolls with infectious disease wards.
  • The Team Europe operation allows further modernisation and decentralisation of the national healthcare system and improves treatment of patients with infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Loan from EU bank expands Team Europe’s support to sustainable development of the Republic of Maldives

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the European Union, will invest €18.4 million through EIB Global, its development arm, to support the Republic of Maldives in improving the efficiency of its national health sector and increasing its resilience to pandemics, including COVID-19. The loan received guarantees from the European Union’s EFSD+ (European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus) instrument. The EIB and the Republic of Maldives signed the loan agreement today in Brussels on the occasion of the European Development Days.

This financing will help the Maldives to decentralise its national healthcare system, facilitate local hospitals’ efforts to help contain pandemics and improve treatment for patients with infectious diseases. This will enable the Government of the Maldives to extend and modernise the country’s network of regional atoll hospitals with wards equipped to treat patients with infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

EIB Global will also finance a new national health laboratory. The new national laboratory system will improve the country’s resilience to COVID-19 and potential future pandemics, provide vital analytical functions for the prevention, control and monitoring of infectious diseases and increase food and pharmaceutical safety in the country. This EU support builds upon the European Union’s COVID response to the Maldives.

Christian Kettel Thomsen, EIB Vice-President in charge of operations in South Asia, said: “Together with our partners in the Government of the Maldives and the European Union we are creating a more efficient, modern and resilient healthcare system for the Maldives, capable of handling major health risks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will enable Maldivians, their visitors and a large number of guest workers to enjoy better quality healthcare locally and benefit from a modern national laboratory system. I am very proud of this Team Europe contribution towards a more resilient Maldives, and would like to thank the Government of the Republic of Maldives for giving us the opportunity to continue contributing towards the country’s sustainable economic and social development.”

Ibrahim Ameer, Finance Minister of the Republic of Maldives, stated: “The people and the Government of Maldives fully appreciate the swift support provided by the EIB during this time of crisis. This underscores the close relationship between the European Union and the people of the Maldives, as was also demonstrated by the EIB’s support after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2006. The facility approved will contribute immensely to our efforts to decentralise the healthcare system of our island nation and also provide quality healthcare to the citizens of the Maldives. With this facility, a new national laboratory will be established, which will improve the country’s resilience to COVID-19 and potential future pandemics, enhance critical analytical capabilities for infectious disease prevention, control, and monitoring, and improve food and pharmaceutical safety in the country. We extend our sincere gratitude to the EIB and all of our development partners that have contributed to a recovery focused on building a more resilient Maldives.”

Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, said: “Increasing resilience to pandemics and health sector efficiency is a key element of the European Union’s new Global Gateway strategy, which provides for investments in sustainable and high-quality infrastructure, including in the area of healthcare. The EIB is a key strategic partner as we roll out the Global Gateway strategy. The loan agreed today, facilitated with an EFSD+ guarantee, is a concrete example of how Team Europe can support its partners in strengthening their resilience. In the case of the Maldives, this support is all the more important since it will not only contribute to improving health capacity for the local population but will also help safeguard tourism, which is essential for the country’s economy.”  

European Commission support in the Maldives

In April 2020, in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union reacted swiftly with a €3 million grant to the Maldives to support the health sector and the tourism industry. This support was reinforced by a €20 million EIB loan to help sustain the local economy. Effective containment of infectious diseases is also key for the sustainable economic and social development of the Maldives, which relies on tourism as the main sector of the national economy.

This support continues today and the €18.4 million loan will improve the efficiency and resilience of the healthcare sector. In order for this loan to materialise, the European Union has provided a comprehensive guarantee under the EU Global Europe Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).

The EFSD+ guarantee is a new means of financing development projects in the Asia-Pacific region. The Commission shares the risks involved in investing, in order for development banks and private investors to come in and lend to local entrepreneurs or finance development projects. Furthermore, under the Global Gateway, the European Commission also confirms its strong commitment as a partner for sustainable and inclusive development.

EIB to continue supporting the social and economic development of the Maldives

This is the fourth sovereign operation for the European Investment Bank in the Maldives and the second supporting mitigation of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EIB signed the first COVID-19-related operation with the Government of Maldives in 2021, and has so far provided a total of €40 million to support the economic recovery of the country’s SMEs from the pandemic.

To date, the EIB has invested over €135 million in the Republic of Maldives, including a €50 million loan for post-tsunami recovery and a €45 million loan for sustainable energy development.

The launch of EIB Global, the EIB’s dedicated development arm, will enable the EU bank to increase its support to small island developing states and ensure they benefit from EU global initiatives and financial mechanisms such as the EU Global Gateway, Global Europe, and the EU Green Deal.

Maldives benefits from EIB South Asia Public Healthcare COVID-19 Programme Loan

The EIB Global loan is the second operation signed under the South Asia Public Healthcare COVID-19 Programme Loan, following the €250 million loan to Bangladesh to strengthen its healthcare system and support immunisation against COVID-19. The EIB extended the €425 million South Asia Public Healthcare COVID-19 programme loan in 2021 as a part of Team Europe’s efforts to support Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

This programme loan can finance operations, which boost emergency response, increase pandemic preparedness, including vaccine purchase and vaccination campaigns, and improve the resilience of the healthcare sector.

Boosting EU-Maldives partnership for more resilient and sustainable development of the country

This EIB Global operation supports the implementation of the Republic of Maldives’ National Resilience and Recovery Plan. It continues the ongoing EIB Global support for small island developing states to reduce their vulnerability to a changing climate, increase resilience during major crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce pollution and CO2 emissions, and contribute to the development of a sustainable blue economy.

EIB Global’s activities in the country, including this project, also deliver on the EU Global Gateway initiative’s pledge to enhance collaboration with the European Union’s global partners in preventing future health emergencies and strengthen global cooperation on healthcare-related issues.

Background information

About the EIB:

Launched in January 2022, EIB Global is the EIB Group’s new specialised arm dedicated to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance. EIB Global is designed to foster strong, focused partnership within Team Europe, alongside fellow development finance institutions and civil society. EIB Global brings the Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices across the world

About the EIB in Asia:

For 25 years, the EIB has supported economic development in Asia and the Pacific region via projects ranging from cutting travel times for people of Bangalore with a new metro line, to providing cheaper, cleaner energy to western Nepal.

In Asia, the EIB focus is our lending on climate action across all sectors. Through our financing, we act as a catalyst to attract the funding needed to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. We also work to incorporate gender equality in our projects, ensuring that women, men, girls and boys can benefit from projects equally and equitably.

About the EIB in the Maldives:

To date, the European Investment Bank has invested €135.4 million in the Maldives in four operations supporting faster COVID-19 economic recovery, the local energy sector and SMEs. One of the operations was a €50 million credit line to support the recovery of local SMEs following the 2006 tsunami.  In 2016, the Bank invested an additional €45 million in sustainable energy development in the Maldives.