The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) signed a US$60m loan deal with a leading Albanian cement maker to help it boost output and meet growing demand, the EBRD said on Friday. 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, the EBRD said in a statement.
EBRD and IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm, will lend US$30m each to the cement factory Fushe Kruje, which will be invested in a dry process cement line with an annual output capacity of 1.3Mta. The OPEC Fund for Reconstruction and Development and Greece’s Alpha Bank will lend US$18m and US$10m for the project, respectively.
"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," EBRD President Jean Lemierre said at the signing ceremony in the capital Tirana. The project will help the factory meet world-class environmental and social standards and reduce Albania’s reliance on cement imports, EBRD said. The total cost of the project undertaken by the plant’s owner, the Lebanese cement group Seament, is estimated at US$130m.
"IFC looks forward to continuing its support for other projects that will similarly act as a catalyst for growth of the country’s private sector economy," IFC’s associate director for Southern Europe and Central Asia Shahbaz Mavaddat said. IFC’s investments in Albania’s private sector since 1998 have focused on banking and insurance sector privatisation, microfinance institutions, manufacturing, and telecommunications. In addition, IFC’s South East Europe Enterprise Development Facility (SEED) has actively supported the country’s SME sector development.