$1-bn World Bank, IDB infrastructure boost for MENA region

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group plans to set up a regional initiative jointly with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) that could raise up to $1 billion for the development of infrastructure in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, an IFC statement issued yesterday said.

The MENA region, where private investment in infrastructure is limited despite huge demand for the services, needs $75 billion to $100 billion a year to sustain the growth rates that have been achieved in recent years to boost economic competitiveness, the statement said.

The announcement aims at addressing this shortfall and brings together the Washington-headquartered World Bank Group with the IDB as potential anchor investors in a regional investment vehicle to support both conventional and Shariah-compliant investment in infrastructure.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia-based IDB is a multilateral development financing institution, created to foster the economic development and social progress of its 56 member countries and Muslim communities in accordance with the Shariah principles.

World Bank Group president Robert Zoellick said, ''This regional initiative will unlock new flows of private sector investment to help countries like Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, or Tunisia eager to push ahead with critical infrastructure projects that will drive competitiveness and boost much needed job creation.''

The new programme would include technical assistance to help governments tackle legal, policy, and institutional constraints to public-private-partnerships and develop cross-border infrastructure projects vital to regional integration and competitiveness.