x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 October 2017

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development eyes lucrative chance for local firms

ADFD sees business opportunities for UAE industry to gain from its reach as it seeks to expand past its 83 countries.

Mohammed Saif al Suwaidi, the director general of ADFD, says the agency has the ability to expand its reach. Ravindranath K / The National
Mohammed Saif al Suwaidi, the director general of ADFD, says the agency has the ability to expand its reach. Ravindranath K / The National

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), which last year tripled the amount of aid it dispensed, wants local companies to gain business through its work.

Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, the fund’s director general, told reporters after its annual report was issued yesterday that the fund was keen to not only expand its reach to more countries other than the 83 that it operates in but to also bring business to UAE companies as part of its international funding programme to help promote and develop local industries.

“We have the ability to expand our reach with the experience that we have,” Mr Al Suwaidi said. “We also want our companies to benefit from our outreach. We want to give the countries we support an incentive to buy from UAE companies. We have co-operated with some companies already but on a small scale. We had a big project in Bahrain for instance that benefited local companies here.”

Despite the drop in oil prices, which the emirate relies on to fund its own projects, the fund invested more money in 2016 than 2015. It dispensed Dh5.6 billion last year, up from Dh1.9bn in 2015. The fund, whose projects it supports are mainly in Arab countries, said last year it dispensed Dh3.9bn in loans with favourable terms to support four projects last year and Dh1.7bn in government grants for 13 projects. In 2015, it provided Dh1.2bn in government grants, and Dh700 million in loans with favourable terms.

“In 2016, ADFD excelled in forging new strategic partnerships with international stakeholders, most notably the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and the Lives and Livelihoods Fund (LLF),” said Mr Al Suwaidi. “These synergies underpin the fund’s efforts in administering long-term development programmes and projects.”

At the same time, the fund said that it has been cementing relationships with international financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It has also supported a joint project facility with the International Renewable Energy Agency that is funding a US$350m renewable energy sector project. The fund didn’t say where the solar project is located.

The fund financially supports sectors that include infrastructure, education, health, housing, transport, irrigation, agriculture and renewable energy.

Since its inception, the fund has financed 339 development projects to the tune of Dh58bn in the Arab world, representing 76 per cent of its total funding. Asian countries have received Dh4.6bn spread across 66 projects, representing 6 per cent of total funds. African countries have been the recipients of Dh3.3bn to support 74 projects, making up 4 per cent of funding.

In total, the fund’s development funding and investment portfolio since its inception till the end of the last year stood at Dh80bn, disbursed to 83 countries.

Out of the total, concessionary loans reached Dh35bn, UAE government grants stood at Dh42bn and the fund’s company and private equity investments amounted to Dh3bn.

mkassem@thenational.ae