Donia Jemail, Anwar Soulami
Washington, July 8, 2009 - H.E. Habib Mansour, Ambassador of Tunisia, on behalf of the borrowers as well as of the Republic of Tunisia as guarantor, and Ms Shamshad Akhtar, Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region of the World Bank, signed a 55 million US Dollars Energy Efficiency Project for Tunisia, to be implemented over a 4 year period.
The objective of the Energy Efficiency Project is to scale up industrial energy efficiency and cogeneration investments, and thereby contribute to the government's new four-year energy conservation program.
The project is a line of credit to Financial Intermediaries (FI) to finance industrial energy efficiency and cogeneration projects. The IBRD loans are lent, with a guarantee from the Republic of Tunisia, to three commercial banks, which will on-lend, following their lending policies and procedures, to companies for eligible subprojects. The Tunisian commercial banks are responsible for loan repayment and assume all financial risk. The loans are to Amen Bank (AB) in the amount of Euro 23.1 million (US$ 30 million equivalent), Banque de l’Habitat (BH) in the amount of Euro 15.4 million (US$ 20 million equivalent) and Banque pour le Financement des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (BFPME) in the amount of Euro 3.9 million (US$ 5 million equivalent).
The project concept was designed to provide an integrated technical and financial analysis of end-use projects to be financed by Financial Intermediaries (FIs). To avoid lengthy and cumbersome application processes for projects that commercial banks will not be interested in financing, the National Agency for Energy Control (ANME) will work closely with FIs to prescreen projects for financing. This set-up will also allow the integration of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (FNME) subsidies and other grants and loans from different sources in the financing plan of each project.
The project supports the Tunisian policy in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy and will increase the competitiveness of the Tunisian economy, reduce its vulnerability to world energy market shocks and reduce the budgetary burden of energy subsidies - objectives which are even more critical at a time of financial and economic crisis. By seeking a reduction of the energy intensity of the Tunisian economy, it also contributes to its transition to a low carbon path. This new project is therefore expected to be a major component of the new World Bank/Tunisia Country Partnership Strategy currently under preparation, which has as one of its main pillars “climate change policy”.
Ms. Akhtar highlighted how the signing of this loan showed the close collaboration between the World Bank and Tunisia across the board. She acknowledged that Tunisia had always been a pioneer among developing countries in terms of energy efficiency policy and had developed strong institutions for implementing its policy, which made the country better prepared for managing the effects of the financial and economic crisis. On behalf of the Government HE Habib Mansour expressed appreciation for the close relationship with the Bank and noted the Government's many efforts to make energy efficiency a top priority at all times to address the key development challenges of Tunisia.