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Uzbekistan|economy|September 12, 2023 / 08:31 AM
IFC makes record investment in Central Asia to boost sustainable growth, foster inclusion

AKIPRESS.COM - Amid overlapping challenges and geopolitical risks, IFC invested and mobilized over $1.6 billion in the Central Asia region in fiscal year 2023 (FY23)—its highest ever in the region—to enhance growth, upgrade regional connectivity, and build climate resilience. That work, between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, came alongside milestone engagements to boost financial inclusion, structure groundbreaking public-private partnership (PPP) projects, and promote gender diversity, IFC said.

In Uzbekistan, IFC’s largest portfolio in Central Asia, IFC invested and mobilized $1.568 billion in FY23, its highest since operations began there in 1993. That included $49 million for the country’s inaugural wind power project, the Zarafshon power plant, due to be operational in 2025, and a $150 million financing package, as well as close to $1 billion in mobilization, for a modern thermal power plant in the Syrdarya region. The projects will help meet the country's growing demand for energy while supporting its decarbonization and energy transition efforts.

In Kazakhstan, IFC provided $15 million to KazFoodProducts, the country’s leading agribusiness group, to support its growth and create jobs while bolstering food security in the region. IFC’s $20 million loan to KMF, a leading microfinance organization, 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. This IFC-supported project was Central Asia’s first PPP.

In the Kyrgyz Republic, IFC, as a lead transaction advisor, 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 $35 million to local financial institutions 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.

In Tajikistan, IFC’s $15 million support to Imon International and Eskhata Bank enabled them to finance thousands of MSMEs across the country.

“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 Türkiye 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.”

Looking ahead, IFC remains committed to supporting private sector development in Central Asia, with a continued focus on key sectors such as agribusiness, financial services, infrastructure, and manufacturing, while promoting sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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