President Jacob Zuma presiding over the official launch of the Africa Regional Centre of the Brics New Development Bank (NDB) in Sandton, Johannesburg, on August 17, 2017. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE/GCIS
President Jacob Zuma presiding over the official launch of the Africa Regional Centre of the Brics New Development Bank (NDB) in Sandton, Johannesburg, on August 17, 2017. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE/GCIS

A New Development Bank (NDB) set up by the Brics group of emerging economies plans to lend $1.5bn to SA for infrastructure projects over the next eighteen months.

The Brics — Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA — agreed to create the infrastructure-focussed lender in July 2014 as an alternative to the World Bank, launching it a year later.

The bank, headquartered in Shanghai, officially opened its African regional centre in Joburg on Thursday which will identify projects that it can fund.

"We have an appetite to do about $1.5bn of lending to SA for the next 18 months and the task before the members of the Africa regional centre is to make sure that this pipeline is rectified into actual lending projects," the bank’s president Kundapur Kamath said at the launch.

The NDB was created to address a massive infrastructure funding gap in the member countries, which account for almost half the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output.

It was founded with an initial authorised capital of $100bn and started lending last year, funding seven projects worth $1.5bn.

"Our target is to end 2018 with a total loan book of about $8bn for approximately 35 projects," Kamath said, referring to the loan book of the bank as a whole.

Zuma said the regional office was expected to ease funding access hurdles for African countries, as the bank was working on expanding its membership to other countries outside Brics.

"We expect that the bank through the Africa Regional Centre will contribute to accelerating infrastructure investment in energy, transport, water and other productive sectors," Zuma said.

Reuters

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