EBRD approves new strategy for Kazakhstan, sets investment priorities

ASTANA (TCA) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Board of Directors has approved a new country strategy for Kazakhstan, which outlines the Bank’s primary areas of investment and policy engagement in the country over the next four years, the Bank said on July 10.

The strategy builds on the Bank’s strong operational engagement in Kazakhstan, which has seen the country become one of the EBRD’s largest markets, with the total investment to date exceeding US$ 8 billion.

Under the new strategy, the Bank will focus on the following priorities:

Balancing the roles of the public and private sectors. The Bank will continue to support the growth of private enterprises, which are still outweighed by the public sector. By investing in the private sector, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in agribusiness and the non-extractive sectors, the EBRD hopes to improve the economy’s competitiveness. The Bank remains interested in the privatisation programme announced by the government. At the same time, the Bank will continue to support the reform of Kazakhstan’s public sector and the commercialisation of state-owned enterprises.

Broadening access to finance, strengthening the banking sector and developing local capital markets. Many firms continue to suffer from insufficient access to finance. The EBRD will work on improving the resilience of Kazakhstan’s financial sector, which will in turn help relieve pressures on businesses, especially SMEs and the non-extractive sector.

Inter-regional connectivity and international integration. Investing in Kazakhstan’s infrastructure remains an important focus of the EBRD. By supporting inter-regional and cross-border rail and road projects, the Bank seeks to enhance connectivity and boost the economic inclusion of remote regions of the country.

Green economy transition. The EBRD is the largest investor in sustainable energy in Kazakhstan, covering both renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. It will continue to combine investment with policy engagement, in order to further help the country develop a supportive regulatory framework for sustainable energy, water and resource use. Decreasing Kazakhstan’s carbon footprint is crucial for the country’s sustainable development across all sectors, notably in agriculture, energy and industry.

In addition to being a renewable energy champion (the Bank has earmarked €200 million for the sector in Kazakhstan), the EBRD is also the largest institutional investor overall in the country’s economy outside of the oil and gas sectors.

In recent years, an increasing amount has been invested in crucial public utilities and small business support in nearly all regions of Kazakhstan.

In the water utility sector, EBRD projects now produce about 267 million cubic metres of potable water every year, improving access to tap water for almost a million people. Improved wastewater services reach more than 1.3 million people across the country.

An example of the Bank’s work with small businesses is the popular Women in Business programme, which has to date provided about 12,000 loans in the local currency, tenge, for a total equivalent to US$ 41 million, mostly outside of the largest cities Almaty and Astana.

Inclusion is already a strong focus for the EBRD, with a new US$ 1 billion programme for projects in the energy and natural resources sectors aiming to support technical education and new jobs for local women and young people.

Sergey Kwan