In the latest agency initiative to stimulate economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) has approved a US$125mn guarantee facility that will support Citibank‘s lending efforts throughout the region.

The facility will enable Citibank to provide additional US dollar and local currency project and corporate loans in sub-Saharan Africa, with an initial focus on Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. Citibank will originate and structure all individual loans, but each loan made will be cleared by Opic for its effect on the US economy, environmental impacts, and human and workers” rights. A portion of the facility will be reserved for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Opic president and CEO Peter Watson says that the facility will help Citibank overcome the current mismatch between opportunities to provide medium to long-term loans to emerging local companies in the region and the lack of banking capital in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Access to long-term capital among entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa is at odds with the vitality and capability they possess. This partnership between Opic and Citibank will help to close that gap,” Watson says. “We are particularly pleased that a portion of the facility will focus on empowering small and medium-sized enterprises, which are an important engine of economic growth worldwide.”

Watson notes that the facility is the latest in a flurry of recent Opic projects in sub-Saharan Africa, demonstrating “OPIC’s ongoing commitment to encourage US businesses to invest in this large and dynamic emerging market.”

In December, Opic announced that a US software company would use US$1.2mn in Opic political risk insurance to support a project office for the development and marketing of its software products and services in Nigeria

In November, Opic announced the membership of Opic’s Africa Investment Advisory Council, a 10-member committee established to assist Opic efforts to generate increased US private investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

In October, Opic announced that a US small business would utilise Opic insurance and financing to develop a pump and motor repair operation in Angola that would help the country’s oil industry end reliance on overseas repairs.

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August, Watson announced that Opic would provide financing to four projects designed to help South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Ghana meet critical long-term developmental needs, including a US$15mn loan guarantee to help build 90,000 homes for low-income families in South Africa.