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Vienna, 20.12.2018 EU-Africa Forum: Austrian Finance Ministry reinforces Africa focus Higher loan volume for investments as well as strengthening of SMEs and private sector development

Vienna (OTS) - Increased European investments as the key to Africa's long-term development are at the focus of today's High-Level Forum Africa-Europe. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance is already turning the current discussions into concrete action. The Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank (OeEB), acting on behalf of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance as the development bank of the Republic of Austria, is expanding its engagement with Africa, thereby focusing on three areas: higher loan volumes for investments, optimised support for Austrian SMEs in Africa, and strengthening private sector development in Africa.

Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Löger declared: "The African continent is full of potential. At the same time, it is clear that the key to long-term improvement in living conditions and greater affluence lies in economic development, and particularly in strengthening of the private sector. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance is converting words into action and generating a win-win situation, for on the one hand, investing in African markets is being simplified for Austrian companies, and at the same time, the local economy is being strengthened."

Specifically, the loans, which serve investments in Africa, are to be increased from their current level of approximately EUR 35 million to around EUR 55 million. Through a portfolio approach, a regional approach will thereby be pursued, balanced across different sectors. Moreover, 25% of new business is intended to flow into the least developed countries of Africa. In addition, an investment fund of over EUR 10 million is being created for smaller investment projects for Austrian SMEs wishing to operate in Africa. In order to strengthen private sector development in Africa, the Austrian Ministry of Finance is furthermore expanding its long-standing cooperation with the World Bank's Centre for Financial Reporting Reform. By the end of the year, funds totalling EUR 3 million will be available. The core element of the new commitment is sustainable communication of fundamental skills in accounting and cash-flow management in order to counter the lack of skilled workers.

In this regard, Finance Minister Löger also met yesterday in Vienna with Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank. In addition to discussions on further development of the Africa focus as well as presentation of the "Growing United" report, plans for the World Bank location in Vienna were also on the agenda. In the coming year, the Bank will further expand its facility there, creating one of the largest offices in Europe.