By Nuru Ahmed

The European Investment Bank (EIB) announced a US$ 1.1 billion lending program to assist women entrepreneurs in Africa.

Ambroise Fayolle, EIB’s Vice President said, “This initiative aims to promote female entrepreneurship,” noting that female entrepreneurs will gain business skills from the initiative.

Making the statement during the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, he explained that the financing is to promote gender investment associated to climate change and is part of broader European engagement. Adding that, it is to deliver targeted support for new investment that funds increased female economic involvement in Africa.

He also revealed that the bank has signed three further agreements to boost sustainable development on the continent.

The EIB is a lending arm of the European Union that has supported investment in Africa for more than 50 years. In 2018, it provided a record of €3.3 billion to African countries. More of the funds went to the private sector.

As one of the prime providers of climate finance, the investment bank also struck a deal with Guinea-based telecommunications provider, IPT PowerTech Group. This will make the company abandon fossil fuels for cleaner sources of power like solar and wind.

Mohamed Al Habbal, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at IPT PowerTech Group, said the move for renewable sources of energy like solar power will help the company decrease its carbon footprint. Habbal noted that thousands of jobs will be created as a result of this deal.

An additional deal that was signed on the first day of the second Africa Investment Forum will see African Trade Insurance rise its membership in Western and Southern Africa. The increased insurance coverage is anticipated to attract more investment to the continent.

In Southern Africa, the EIB confirmed a new lending program to support access to finance by entrepreneurs across Malawi.  A new scheme to finance smallholders in the country is to be established next year.

Patricia Hamisi, a Senior Manager at Malawi’s FDH bank said the money will assist the bank to develop its long-term credit to small businesses owned by women. She added that the agreement comes with technical assistance which will help the bank enhance its trade financing.

The Africa Investment Forum inaugural edition was launched in 2018 in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, and the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, and the European Investment Bank. The 2019 Forum ran from 11 to 13 November 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.