Interview with Mr. Joachim Schwarzer, Director for Germany, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

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Mr. Joachim Schwarzer, Director for Germany, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and head of the EBRD mission to the African Development Bank, discusses the potential for current and future collaboration between the African Development Bank and the EBRD during an official visit to the Bank on Friday, November 30, 2012 in Tunis.

AfDB President Donald Kaberuka opened the meeting in which members of the EBRD Board were hosted by the AfDB Board of Directors. The day-long session was chaired by the Dean of the Board of Directors, Executive Director Mohamed Mahroug, representing Morocco, Togo and Tunisia.

In your view, what were the most valuable takeaways from today's meeting between the African Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development?

I think we have learned that the EBRD is very much welcome cooperating with the colleagues of the African Development Bank. They have the impression that we can contribute and provide additional support to the activities of all of us in the interests of the Arab countries, so our mandate is to support market economy democracy based on our specific competencies in the private sector. And this was the outcome of the discussion, that there is really opportunity to support the economic development in the region by strengthening the private sector.

And you're talking specifically about the North African region and Jordan.

Yes, this is the region we are talking about. It is, for the time being, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan. We will do business there, especially for the private sector; for example, for small and medium-sized companies, which are very relevant for creating jobs and for innovation and flexibility. And another very important area of activities, where we have some competencies is the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy. So both areas are very much in need of additional capital and additional support and this is something we can contribute to, together with our colleagues at the African Development Bank.

What do you think the African Development Bank, in turn, can offer in terms of expertise to your organization?

In the morning I said, in the beginning of our discussion, we are really the new kid on the block. The African Development Bank is very knowledgeable, experienced in the region. So we bring our expertise with respect to private sector investment and the AfDB has the knowledge and the experience in the region. And since all of the projects have to take into account the specific needs of every country, it's important to cooperate, to exchange views, to join efforts, to have some positive impact. By the way, other important factor is we think that it is very important that the respective governments themselves create the right environment for investment. This is something we are trying to achieve by engaging in policy dialogue with the governments, telling them how important it is to have the rule of law, fight against corruption, have an independent judiciary, and an effective public administration. To promote this and to create the right business environment, it is necessary and helpful if the African Development Bank and the EBRD together with others give the respective advice to the governments because, without that, if the governments themselves don't create the right business environment, our activities will not achieve the goals we want to achieve.

What's next between the two development Banks?

Our staff, our managers, are already on the ground. We have prepared the first projects. We have done the first common projects together. We are building up our capacities now, hiring staff in the region, opening resident offices in all the countries of operation in the Arab countries. Now activities on the ground will start.

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