EBRD bank looks to invest in north Africa

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a key investor in ex-communist countries for the past 20 years, said on Wednesday that it sees north Africa as a future port of call.

Ahead of its annual meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana, the EBRD said it was "equipped to support its existing region through recovery from the global financial crisis" and was prepared "for possible new challenges in North Africa".

EBRD President Thomas Mirow added in a statement ahead of the May 20-21 gathering: "In this 20th anniversary year we can look back with a certain pride on the contribution the Bank has made to the remarkable progress in our region (of investment) since the collapse of communism."

He added: "I am sure that the experience we have built up in the two decades of our operations can be usefully applied in other areas where people are seeking change and signals of hope."

The EBRD said its governors would use this month's meeting to assess the potential for extending the bank's mandate to north Africa and produce a roadmap for any change.

They will also discuss a timetable for decisions on Egypt's request that the EBRD begins investing there.

In Astana, the bank will additionally publish its latest forecasts for economic growth in its countries of operation, which include Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine.

The London-based EBRD was formed in 1991 to help former communist nations in their transition to market economies. It tends to invest in private enterprises together with commercial partners across its zone.

© 2011 AFP

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