Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director, concluded a two-day visit to Uzbekistan, where he had discussions with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and senior state officials on scaling up IFC’s engagements in the country. The meetings, which also included exchanges with women entrepreneurs and IT start-ups, are part of IFC’s broader efforts to increase private sector participation in the economy, support the country’s economic transformation, and attract more private investment despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As Uzbekistan shifts to a competitive market economy, IFC is committed to supporting the country by helping the government boost private sector participation and implement pro-business reforms,” Makhtar Diop said. “IFC’s goal is to catalyze private investment and international best practices into key sectors of the economy through a combination of investment and advisory services. We are confident that our concerted efforts, along with ongoing reforms, will help improve access to finance, promote public-private partnerships, and create jobs while supporting a green, resilient, and inclusive economic recovery in the country,” he added.
Diop was accompanied by Hela Cheikhrouhou, IFC’s new Provinceal Vice President for the newly established Vice Presidency covering IFC’s engagement in the Middle East, Central Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. During the visit, IFC signed a landmark loan agreement with Uzsanoatqurilishbank, the second largest bank in the country, allowing it to expand lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), scale up its green banking program, and support the bank’s path to privatization.
In spite of a difficult year with massive social and economic disruptions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, IFC continues to focus its efforts on leveraging the private sector for inclusive and sustainable development in Uzbekistan. As of September 17, 2021, IFC’s investment commitment in Uzbekistan stood at $223 million.
In addition, IFC’s advisory services aim to help the government of Uzbekistan in preparing state-owned banks for privatization, developing and diversifying the financial market, transforming the cotton sector, supporting the chemicals industry, and designing public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the power and health sectors, among others.
In fiscal year 2021, IFC focused on a number of strategic priorities for the country, including driving its energy transition and addressing climate change. For instance, IFC financed a first large-scale photovoltaic solar park in the Navoi province that was structured under the WBG Scaling Solar Program. IFC also served as a transaction advisor and helped the government design and tender two more solar PPPs in the Jizzakh and Samarkand provinces.
To boost competitiveness and productivity, IFC invested in Indorama Agro to improve the livelihoods of farmers and help promote the sustainable development of the county's cotton sector through modern technologies and the adoption of international environmental and social practices. IFC also signed a cooperation agreement with the government of Uzbekistan to generate new investments in the chemicals sector and encourage the endorsement of sustainable practices.
As part of its efforts to promote inclusion, IFC extended a $5 million loan to DAVR-BANK to help expand its financing for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and women-owned businesses across Uzbekistan. It supported health-care PPPs to help underserved citizens, including rural patients and children, with equal access to better quality and safe health care. With cross-border trade heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandmeic, IFC also provided a $20 million trade finance guarantee facility to Uzsanoatqurilishbank to support the country’s exporters and importers, protecting jobs and livelihoods.