European Investment Bank Plans Africa Expansion Amid Growth

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The European Investment Bank plans to open offices in four more African cities as it strengthens its foothold on a continent looking for financing to build infrastructure, said a senior official with the lender.

The EIB will open an office in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, later this year, followed by Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Zambia’s Lusaka, and Maputo, Mozambique in 2016, EIB Vice President Pim van Ballekom said in an interview.

“Africa is growing fast,” Ballekom said on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where he announced the EIB will provide 40 million euros ($43.8 million) to expand the country’s water and sanitation networks. The bank is due to open an office in Ethiopia on Thursday, according to Ballekom.

“There are many opportunities of investment in energy, water and sanitation and agriculture,” Van Ballekom said.

Economic growth across Africa is set to accelerate to 5 percent in 2016 from an estimated 4.5 percent this year, when foreign direct investment will rise to $73.5 billion, according to the African Development Bank. The inflows may help narrow a funding gap for infrastructure development on the continent that the World Bank estimates at $93 billion a year.

The EIB has little exposure in Africa, directing just 2.5 billion euros to the continent out of 80 billion euros in investment it pledges each year, Van Ballekom said.

“We could do 10 billion a year, but we are dependent on the will of the shareholders,” he said. “The investment opportunities in Africa are huge.”

In Africa, the lender already has offices in South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, according to its website.

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