The EBRD and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector arm, are together lending Fushe Kruja Cement Factory, one of Albania’s largest cement manufacturers, US$60mn to help the company increase production and meet growing demand.

The US$30mn loans from each institution will be invested in a new and modern production line with an annual cement capacity of 1.3mn tonnes.

The project will help the factory meet world-class environmental and social standards and reduce Albania’s reliance on cement imports. The EBRD and IFC financing is accompanied by an US$18mn loan from the Opec Fund for Reconstruction and Development and a US$10mn loan from Greece’s Alpha Bank. The financing represents the largest foreign direct investment in Albania’s manufacturing industry since the country’s transition to a market economy began in the early 1990s.

Jean Lemierre, president of EBRD, said during the signing in Tirana that the project is important not only for Albania’s construction sector but for the country’s economy as a whole. “One of the big challenges for Albania is to attract foreign investment, and this project should clearly demonstrate to investors the possibilities of working successfully in Albania,” Lemierre added.

Fushe Kruja Cement Factory was established in 2000 as a private company following the government’s privatisation process. A subsidiary of the Seament Group of Lebanon, the company employs more than 300 staff at its plant in Frushe Kruje, 35km outside Tirana.