Abdulwahab Al Bader, Director-General, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development: Interview

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Abdulwahab Al Bader, Director-General, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED)

Interview: Abdulwahab Al Bader

Which sectors of Jordan’s economy have the most development potential?

ABDULWAHAB AL BADER: It is the KFAED’s policy to respect the development priorities of its emerging economy partners. In this way, the KFAED finances projects across various sectors, including transportation, energy, water and sewage, agriculture, industry, education, health, telecommunications and development banks. The fund is committed to financing projects after being thoroughly appraised by its staff to ensure their economic and financial viability and their impact on the sustainable development of the recipient country. Since its establishment, the KFAED has helped finance 33 various development projects in Jordan, worth $571m.

Nowadays, renewable energy represents one of the best opportunities for project development in Jordan – not only near the capital, but in other regions as well. The considerable potential in terms of wind and solar energy, as well as the lack of hydrocarbons resources, make renewables an adequate way for Jordan to build a competitive local industry and reach energy independence in the medium term. The Jordanian government, along with international and local partners, is currently developing many high-scale projects in this regard, like the 52.5 MW Shams solar plant that began operations in December 2016. We are confident that the other wind and solar generation facilities planned for the coming years will allow the country to reach its objective of 1200 MW installed capacity by 2020.

With ongoing regional instability, how much does risk factor into assessing which projects to fund?

AL BADER: The KFAED finances projects in the domestic economy of recipient countries and considers all factors that facilitate their implementation without serious problems. As long as such projects can be completed successfully, the KFAED, together with the host government, will take all necessary measures to ensure all conditions and requirements support the orderly timing of their implementation. Jordan has been able to maintain internal stability despite the regional conflicts of recent years. The efforts of both the public authorities and multiple private actors have preserved a climate that encourages foreign direct investment.

On what criteria do you judge projects for the disbursement of grants or concessionary loans?

AL BADER: Loans are provided to priority development projects and granted at concessionary terms with long repayment periods and low interest rates. Grants are provided to specific countries or institutions under certain conditions to help prepare feasibility studies; supply training; finance consultancy services for capacity building; upgrade financial, managerial and technical skills; and assist in development planning. The grants can be offered to governments as well as institutions, depending on the particular case.

What role does the KFAED play in the region in terms of promoting economic stability?

AL BADER: The development projects financed by the KFAED aim to help improve living standards for citizens of the beneficiary countries by creating new job opportunities, reducing the levels of poverty, and achieving sustainable economic, social and environmental development. This contributes to economic stability but also to growth and development at large. Through promoting growth in different countries in the region, the goal is to help establish competitive economies that are built on strong foundations. To do so, the appropriate strategy seeks to emphasise the principal advantages of each country.

In this way, it is important to involve small and medium-sized enterprises – which represent more than 90% of all companies in Jordan – in developing the local economy, creating jobs and improving overall living conditions. Promoting development programmes outside the capital is also a key driver of this strategy.

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