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
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,
Launches Comprehensive Training Program to Reinvigorate Iraqi Banking Sector,
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 (www.ifc.org)
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.