Jordan has been at the forefront of the EBRD’s activities in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region. In just five years the Bank has committed US$ 1 billion to 38 projects that cover sustainable energy, financing for small businesses, infrastructure reform and economic inclusion. As part of its aim to promote an open market economy, the Bank has 87 per cent of its investments in the private sector.
The EBRD began engaging in Jordanian renewable energy in 2012 by way of policy dialogue with the government. At that stage Jordan imported 97 per cent of its energy, so the Bank’s aim was to help the country address energy shortages by using a clean energy source it abounds in – sunlight.
In 2014 the EBRD helped finance the country’s first solar power plant. Our US$ 25 million loan, along with a parallel loan by the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), helped build a 20 MW solar photovoltaic power plant south-east of the southern city of Ma’an.
Also in the Ma’an governorate, in 2016, we helped finance the first wind project under the first round of Jordan’s renewable energy feed-in tariff programme. It will increase the country’s installed wind capacity by around 40 per cent.
Our involvement in renewable energy development continues to strengthen. By September 2017 we had financed eight utility-scale renewable projects in Jordan, and raised the cumulative installed capacity of EBRD-financed power projects to more than 1,000 MW, of which 300 MW comprised renewables.
Jordan’s solar programme is completing its second round and the country is a regional leader in the deployment of renewable energy.
Infrastructure projects are another EBRD focus. With more than a million refugees swelling the population to 9 million and testing Jordan’s municipal services, the EBRD has put in place an imaginative municipal infrastructure investment framework, covering Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
It allows the EBRD to help improve services such as wastewater and solid waste handling and, unusually, offers up to 50 per cent of grants, in effect enabling donors to support the government to provide affordable basic services.
Working with Jordan’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the EBRD has financed two large pipelines taking wastewater to the country’s biggest treatment plant at As-Samra, which serves half the population.
In Irbid, Jordan’s second largest city, a project under preparation will create a network for first-time wastewater connections for 100,000 people.
We have delivered important achievements in building a resilient and green economy.
The EBRD helps to ease problems that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) face when trying to access finance. These MSMEs, which comprise 95 per cent of all active firms in Jordan, provide 70 per cent of total private sector employment and generate 40 per cent of GDP. Nurturing them is vital.
The EBRD provides loans to Jordanian banks for on-lending to MSMEs, and trade finance lines to boost international and intra-regional trade.
A US$ 4 million facility with a microfinance institution, MicroFund for Women, has since 2015 provided small loans to Jordanian women entrepreneurs. In 2017 the facility was replenished with an extra US$ 2 million and in a first for banks and microfinance institutions, this facility is available to refugees, whose households are often headed by women needing to earn their own living.
As part of our economic inclusion programme, an EBRD-financed mall in Amman’s Abdali development included a training centre for young Jordanians wanting to work in shops and hotels. The centre is also open to Syrians, some of whom have found jobs.
And to support sustainable tourism, the Bank partnered with the United Nations World Tourism Organization to develop the sector based on responsible and sustainable planning.
The Bank also invested in the Ayla Oasis Project, a residential and commercial waterfront development. It is designed to use renewable energy produced on site which will lead to significant energy and water savings as well as reducing carbon emissions.
The project is accompanied by training for young people and women, and transferring know-how to the local hospitality sector.
Heike Harmgart, the EBRD Regional Head for the Eastern Mediterranean, said: “Together with the Jordanian authorities and the private sector we have delivered important achievements in building a resilient and green economy and I look forward to concluding more investments across all sectors.”
US$ 1bn has been committed to projects that cover sustainable energy, financing for small businesses, infrastructure reform and economic inclusion.