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COMMENT THE PRIVATE SECTOR


An important and growing source of finance for low-income countries


W


elcome to the first OPEC Fund Quarterly magazine of 2021. January marks the 45th anniversary of the OPEC Fund – a multilateral development finance institution established in 1976 to drive development, strengthen communities and empower people. See pages 18 to 25 for ‘45 stories’ that celebrate the diversity of the organization’s partners and people, and showcase successes and achievements over the past four-and-a-half decades. Read about how the OPEC Fund’s public sector operations have contributed to the generation of 955 MW of electricity capacity, for example, supporting the development of 15 GW of generation capacity in total. Or how the organization’s private sector and trade finance operations, since being launched, have supported over 350,000 micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. The OPEC Fund recognizes how much


more there is to do as it continues to support a recovery from the socio-


4


economic impact of COVID-19 in low and middle-income countries. To this end, the organization is employing its public and private sector financing facilities to ensure that assistance reaches those who need it most, quickly and effectively.


Our special feature on pages 6 to 17


investigates the importance of private sector-led development. As the OPEC Fund’s Assistant Director-General, Private Sector and Trade Finance, Tareq Alnassar, says: “COVID-19 disruptions have sent global foreign direct investment (FDI) plunging, so now is an especially important time for our organization – and others – to support private enterprises… the private sector and development go hand in hand.” Today, for individual low-income


countries, external private capital is an important and growing source of finance. And it is clear that the private sector is vital in helping to bridge the massive financing gap that stands in the way of


achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Public financing is equally important, of course. But as always, there is room for improvement. See page 8 for an interesting take on whether traditional global development actors can change the way they operate and engage to achieve better results. Wiebke Schloemer, Director for Europe


and Central Asia at the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, highlights some of the obstacles that must be removed to free the potential of the private sector on page 10. Businesses in the developing world, she notes, often struggle to secure loans and other types of financing, which limits their ability to grow and create jobs. Additionally, many countries have laws that discourage private investment and trade, and tie businesses up in red tape. Much more needs doing to create a better enabling environment, she says. This issue’s Spotlight interview


features the West African Development


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