The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has approved the Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East and North Africa (PEP-MENA), a technical assistance facility to support private sector development in the region.
The facility will absorb the operations of IFC’s two existing technical assistance programmes in the region, in consultation with current donors. These are the North Africa Enterprise Development (NAED) facility, which covers Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco, and mandated to cover the small and medium enterprises, and the Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East (PEP-ME), which covers Afghanistan, Iraq, West Bank and Gaza and Yemen.
The new PEP-MENA facility, headquartered in Cairo is earmarked to receive start-up funding of US$20mn from IFC for three years. PEP-MENA will be able to cover all countries in the Middle East and North Africa region; stretching as far west as Morocco, to Pakistan in the east.
PEP-MENA will also provide a larger menu of technical assistance activities than its predecessors. The new facility will center on improving the business enabling and regulatory environment, strengthening the financial sector, harnessing the growth of small and medium size enterprises and their support services such as business organizations and consulting firms, helping restructure and privatise state-owned enterprises, and developing viable private sector and public-private partnership projects, especially in infrastructure. PEP-MENA is expected to seek up to US$80mn in additional contributions from other donors, and its operations began on October 1.
Peter Woicke, executive vice-president says: “Bolstering private sector development throughout the Middle East and North Africa is key not only to generate much needed investment and technology inflows, but most importantly to create more job opportunities for the young people of the region.”
He adds: “IFC’s technical assistance operations in the Middle East and North Africa region will draw on its knowledge of the region, will replicate the successful programmes launched by NAED, and will also benefit from the approaches that IFC has used very effectively elsewhere.”