Kazakhstan and EBRD Prioritize Green Economy, Digitalization, Infrastructure, and Connectivity Development in Cooperation

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) prioritize the green economy, digitalization, infrastructure, and connectivity development, said EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso during a press conference on Sept. 23 in Nur-Sultan.

In February, Tokayev and Renaud-Basso met for a virtual call to discuss major infrastructure projects in road construction, renewable energy and hydro energy.

One of the priorities that EBRD and Kazakhstan identified is a contribution to the development of the green economy. 

“The first and most important one is the greening of the economy. As you know, Kazakhstan is a country with a strong reliance on coal. The (Kazakh) president has said the objective for the country is to reach net zero-emission in 2060. It’s very important to define the way forward… to reach this objective,” said Renaud-Basso. 

According to EBRD Managing Director Zsuzsanna Hargitai, the bank also plans to cooperate with local and international commercial partners to increase the investments in the renewable energy sector. The annual investment of EBRD to the sector is planned to be approximately  $400-600 million. 

The other priority is developing regional connectivity in Kazakhstan and Central Asia by supporting major road projects. A loan of up to $240 million to the KazAvtoZhol state-owned road company will finance the reconstruction of a 204-kilometer road section between the Kyzylorda and Zhezkazgan cities and the construction of a 14.8-kilometer bypass road around Kyzylorda. The road will improve passenger and cargo transport along strategic route E123, which links western China with the Ural region of Russia.

“At the EBRD, we believe that improved connectivity will provide new opportunities both for Kazakhstan and Central Asia. It is important for the country to create the right transport infrastructure to boost economic integration and post-Covid-19 recovery,” said the president.

The funds, which reconstruct approximately half of the road between the two cities, will be disbursed in the local currency, the tenge. The Asian Development Bank will finance the reconstruction of the remaining road section. 

The development of the local infrastructure of the cities across Kazakhstan is also one of the priorities of the work between the bank and the country. The infrastructure covers but is not limited to waste and water management, transportation, and heating. Along with diverse scale projects across Kazakhstan, EBRD focuses on Almaty, Semei, Oskemen, and Shymkent cities as a part of the Green Cities program. 

The last large priority area is digitalization that includes support of the private sector, particularly SMEs. 

“Country is very well equipped. I understand it has the strongest broadband coverage in the region. So this gives a lot of potential for digitalization,” said Renaud-Basso.

In March 2021, Kazakhstan and EBRD signed the third Enhanced Partnership Framework Arrangement for five years to support the development of the country’s economy in the above-mentioned areas and the recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic. To date, the EBRD has invested more than $8.4 billion in Kazakhstan’s economy through 290 projects.

“One of the specificities of the EBRD is to be focusing on the private sector. That’s what we will continue to do. Supporting all the target sector activities, be it SMEs, also PPPs (Public-private partnership) for infrastructure projects and so forth,” said the president. 

This is the first visit of Renaud-Basso to Kazakhstan that is planned to last Sept. 22-25. At the time of the press briefing, she had already had a meeting with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Prime Minister Askar Mamin, and other Kazakh authorities and partners. Further, the EBRD President plans to meet with representatives of Kazakh small and medium businesses (SME) and civil society members to discuss issues of green economy, digitalization, and gender equality issues in Kazakhstan. 

“There is one very important thing not related to financing, in terms of policy reform. We work with the government in order to remove legal restrictions for 100 professions that women could not access,” stressed Renaud-Basso. 

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