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IFC Launches Program to Revitalize Afghanistan’s Banking Sector

Ahmed Badawi-Malik
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KABUL/WASHINGTON, D.C., September 24, 2004 — The Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East (PEP-ME), a technical assistance program created, funded, and managed by IFC, ended a one-day roundtable discussion in Kabul yesterday. It focused on identifying the priorities to strengthen Afghanistan’s banking sector and training programs for bank staff.

Following decades of successive conflict, the intermediary role of the banking system is currently limited in the Afghani economy. A few private sector and state-owned commercial banks have been licensed or re-licensed recently to assume operations. But they still need to regain the trust of the Afghani population because economic transactions have been cash-based for many years. Lending is particularly scarce.

Senior managers of Afghani commercial banks and representatives from the central bank attended the PEP-ME-hosted roundtable. IFC speakers made presentations on the development of the banking industry in other parts of the developing world, and advised delegates on how Afghanistan could best learn from these experiences.

Discussions centered on how foreign banks and Afghan banks can collaborate to exchange technical and market knowledge, and on ways to improve staff skills. The discussion also addressed providing Afghanistan with a bank training facility. Following on from the roundtable, PEP-ME will design and deliver seminars for senior bank staff on international best practices in banking, and customized basic banking programs for operational staff of Afghani banks.

Jesper Kjaer, general manager for PEP-ME, said, “Skilled and well-trained banking staff are key for an efficient financial services industry. IFC is an active player in several bank-training institutes worldwide. The Afghan financial sector will benefit a lot from our extensive experience in developing and delivering tailor-made bank training programs.”

Note to Editors:
For information on bank staff training activities and programs by the Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East, see

IFC Launches Comprehensive Training Program to Reinvigorate Iraqi Banking Sector, and IFC Lays Foundations for Private Sector Growth in Iraq by Training Local Bankers.

The Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East (PEP-ME), with start-up funding of $10 million from IFC, provides technical assistance to Afghanistan, Iraq, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. PEP-ME focuses its technical assistance in those countries on improving the business and regulatory environment, strengthening financial institutions and markets, stimulating the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, and assisting in the restructuring and privatization of state-owned enterprises.

The mission of IFC ( is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.