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EU bank to fund SA universities, businesses

Written by Amukelani Chauke
The European Investment Bank plans to fund small and medium enterprises and universities in South Africa to contribute to development.

The bank’s head of regional representation in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean, Carmelo Cocuzza, said these were among several investment opportunities that the European Union Bank was aiming for in the near future.

“We are now looking at funding educational projects, particularly in tertiary education. We are starting now to approach several universities … but we are yet to develop a funding programme.

“We are also talking to banks with a view of supporting small and medium enterprises financing in the private sector because there are many small projects which we cannot finance directly,” said Cocuzza, who was speaking at The European House- Ambrosetti (T H E - A ) Economic Summit.

The investment bank finances African projects that have synergy with European policies, including public-private partnerships.

Cocuzza said the research conducted by THE-A would help investors understand what opportunities await them in the manu f a c turing, energy and agriculture industries.

“I think it is important that investors get an overall perspective with the business climate of South Africa and that is what they are getting with the presence of government here at the summit,” he said.

Cocuzza added that the bank had sponsored several projects in South Africa, including injecting millions of Euros to bankroll Eskom’s concentrated solar power plant in Upington in the Northern Cape.

“We also supported government in its affordable housing programme through the big four local banks to improve the social housing conditions in South Africa.

“We are providing 150 million Euros and I believe over 400 houses to be built,” he said.

He said the cash injection was finalised last year.

Cocuzza also said that the bank funded several other South African projects, including sponsoring 80 million Euros for the construction of the R21 freeway project, amongst others.

He said the bank has invested over one billion Euros since 1994.