Global Gateway: EIB Announces Investment in Sustainable Transport in Central Asia

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is set to impact sustainable transport in Central Asia significantly. With the co-financing of almost €1.5 billion, the EIB Global initiative aims to upgrade the transport sector in the region, facilitating economic growth, enhancing connectivity, and addressing climate change. This landmark collaboration between the EIB and countries such as the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the Development Bank of Kazakhstan marks a major milestone in implementing the EU-Central Asia and Global Gateway strategies.

Mobilising €3 Billion for Connectivity Projects

One of the key objectives of the EIB Global initiative is to mobilise a total of €3 billion for connectivity projects in Central Asia. This financial injection will be instrumental in transforming the region’s transport infrastructure, paving the way for sustainable development and fostering closer ties between Europe and Central Asia. The EIB’s commitment to co-financing projects on favourable terms will attract additional capital, resulting in a comprehensive support package for sustainable transport initiatives.

The EIB’s extensive experience and expertise in project financing will prove invaluable in implementing these connectivity projects. Over the past decade alone, the EIB has financed transport projects globally, amounting to an impressive €136.5 billion. By sharing its long-term global knowledge, the EIB is well-positioned to support Central Asia in achieving its transport goals and modernising its economies.

Driving EU Priorities and the Global Gateway

The EIB’s support for sustainable transport in Central Asia aligns with the EU’s strategic priorities outlined in the EU-Central Asia Roadmap. This collaboration aims to enhance connectivity, boost trade exchanges, and strengthen regional transport networks. Furthermore, it plays a crucial role in realising the Global Gateway initiative’s targets, both within and outside the European Union.

The Global Gateway strategy is essential for tackling global challenges and promoting sustainable development. By investing in sustainable transport, the EIB contributes to the fight against climate change and fosters the resilience of transport networks. Sustainable transport facilitates personal mobility and enables the efficient exchange of goods, capital, and services, driving economic growth and social equality.

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The Impact of EIB Investment

EIB investment in sustainable transport will have far-reaching impacts on Central Asia’s quality of life, economic growth, and employment opportunities. By improving transport infrastructure, people will enjoy better access to essential services, and businesses will benefit from enhanced connectivity. Additionally, investing in sustainable transport is a crucial step towards addressing climate change, as it reduces the environmental impact of transport activities and promotes the use of cleaner, greener alternatives.

Teresa Czerwińska, EIB Vice-President, emphasises the transformative power of EIB investment, stating, “EIB investment will improve people’s quality of life and strengthen economic growth and employment opportunities. It will help to bring people closer together and foster social and gender equality.” By prioritising sustainable transport, the EIB actively contributes to building a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.

The European Commission’s Endorsement

The European Commission welcomes the Memorandums of Understanding signed between the EIB Global and the Central Asian countries. Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis affirms the importance of this collaboration, stating, “Today’s Memoranda of Understanding represents an opportunity for both the EU and Central Asian countries. We are committed to strengthening our trade relations to benefit both regions.” This endorsement highlights the significance of the EIB Global initiative in fostering partnerships and promoting sustainable development.

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The Perspective of Key Stakeholders

The signing of the Memorandums of Understanding has garnered positive reactions from key Central Asian stakeholders. Marat Karabayev, Minister of Transport of the Republic of Kazakhstan, recognises the significance of these agreements in enhancing interregional cooperation and improving freight transportation efficiency. Bakyt Torobaev, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic, emphasises the importance of strengthening interregional transport connectivity and the potential for the Kyrgyz Republic to serve as a transit hub.

Ilkhom Makhkamov, Minister of Transport of the Republic of Uzbekistan, expresses optimism about the collaboration, stating, “This agreement marks a new era of progress for Uzbekistan and our neighbors. As we sign a MOU, we are paving the way for transformative progress in the transport sector.” He further emphasises the shared commitment to enhancing sustainable transport connections between Europe and Central Asia.

Botagoz Abisheva, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of the Development Bank of Kazakhstan (DBK), highlights the cooperation between the EIB and DBK, stating, “This cooperation is intended to enhance trade relations between the two regions.” The potential provision of up to €320 million to DBK will support projects across various sectors of the economy, focusing on developing sustainable transport infrastructure connecting Europe and Central Asia.

EIB Global: A Driving Force for Sustainable Development

EIB Global is the specialised arm of the EIB Group dedicated to operations outside the European Union. As a key partner of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, EIB Global aims to support at least €100 billion of investment by 2027. Through strong partnerships with fellow development finance institutions and civil society, EIB Global brings the EIB Group closer to local communities, companies, and institutions worldwide.

Since the inception of EIB operations in Central Asia in 2011, the EU bank has provided significant support to the region. Loans totalling €1.1 billion have been signed to date, benefiting countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These loans have facilitated infrastructure development, energy efficiency, renewable energy projects, water management initiatives, and improved access to finance for small businesses.

Commitment to Sustainable Transport

Its Transport Lending Policy reflects the EIB’s commitment to sustainable transport. Updated in July 2022 following the adoption of the Climate Bank Roadmap and the European Green Deal, this policy sets investment priorities to overcome challenges in the transport sector and promote a more sustainable transport system. By financing projects that prioritise greener, safer, and more efficient transport, the EIB actively contributes to mitigating the environmental impact of transportation and advancing sustainable practices.

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The Global Gateway: EIB Global initiative marks a significant step forward in enhancing sustainable transport in Central Asia. With substantial co-financing and the expertise of the EIB, the transport sector in the region is set to undergo a transformative change. This collaboration not only aligns with EU priorities but also contributes to the realisation of the Global Gateway strategy. By investing in sustainable transport, the EIB supports economic growth, fosters social and gender equality, and addresses climate change. Central Asia is poised to reap the benefits of this partnership as connectivity projects and improved transport infrastructure unlock new opportunities for the region’s development.