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Finance Minister Ahmed Shide (left) and Ousmane Dione (centre), World Bank country director

Finance Minister Ahmed Shide (left) and Ousmane Dione (centre), World Bank country director, saunter out of the halls of the former’s headquarters on King George VI St., Sidist Kilo area, following the inking of a 907-million-dollar financing agreement, almost one-fifth of which is earmarked for COVID-19 response initiatives. The virus has killed over 3,400 people in the country, with total reported cases at around a quarter of a million.

This year, the World Bank approved other projects focused on education, climate resilience, and social safety nets, bringing lending commitments to two billion dollars thus far. Ethiopia’s government has been reiterating the need for support from bilateral and multilateral development partners in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its troubling political situation. These are indeed developmental challenges that the World Bank would like to see the country get past, on top of a severe locust invasion that has threatened food security and livelihoods as well as limitations in competitiveness and an underdeveloped private sector.

Lia Tadesse, minister of Health, is close by as one of the projects to be covered by the agreement is a 207-million-dollar grant to support vaccine acquisition and distribution. Her Ministry has received around 2.5 million doses in recent months, with over 430,000 receiving the jab thus far.

Part of the financing agreement related to the pandemic is a 200-million-dollar loan to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs), aimed at closing credit gaps for such enterprises by providing capital and lease financing.

Most of the loans, though, will go into the Access to Distributed Electricity & Lighting project. The half-billion dollar programme will largely be focused on bringing private sector capital into the energy sector. One hundred million dollars is expected to be channeled to private sector distributors and suppliers to support the delivery of services.

"It's always a delight to be at these ceremonies signing agreements," said Ahmed before he inked the deal with the Bank.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 24,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1095]

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