The International Finance Corporation (IFC) aims to double its investments in Bangladesh within the next five years, with a focus on creating new jobs, with new investments to help accelerate the country's resilient recovery and to spur green growth, a top-ranking official of the development organisation has said.
Hector Gomez Ang, IFC Regional Director for South Asia, made the remarks at the end of his five-day visit to Bangladesh, which included meetings with senior government officials, private sector representatives, think tanks, potential new clients and other key stakeholders.
He was accompanied by IFC's recently appointed country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, Martin Holtmann, as well as senior IFC industry experts, according to a media release received today (Thursday).
Energy and energy transmission as well as infrastructure to improve the quality of healthcare in Bangladesh, in the wake of Covid-19 impacts, and the need for affordable housing were among the areas singled out by Gomez Ang as targets for investment.
“IFC promotes energy diversification and already supports more than 20 per cent of the private power generation in Bangladesh. We are looking to do more in terms of the energy mix and transmission, and also to explore new opportunities in healthcare, education, climate and economic zones, and green, affordable housing,” Gomez Ang said.
“An upper-middle-income Bangladesh starts with a livable Dhaka, and we are eager to develop the affordable housing sector which is critical for inclusive growth.”
Speaking after a meeting with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Gomez Ang stressed the need for Bangladesh to spur more foreign direct investments to help the country realise its ambitions, the release said.
"Graduation from least developed countries (LDC) to a developing country status presents a challenge, so, it’s imperative for Bangladesh to look to foreign direct investments and external commercial borrowing for sustainable growth and Bangladesh’s transition," he said.
“Our discussions with the Government of Bangladesh have been very promising and we look forward to closer collaboration.”
Gomez Ang said this was a critical time for Bangladesh’s development journey, and the private sector has a pivotal role to play in Bangladesh’s sustained growth and to take it to the next stage of development.
IFC’s past investments over the years have had a major impact on Bangladesh’s private sector development and the country’s vision of a “Digital Bangladesh.”
Examples include early equity investments in Bkash, Chaldal, Truck Lagbe, and City Bank which has helped accelerate digitisation during the pandemic. Covid-19 has also highlighted the critical need for infrastructure to improve the quality of healthcare in Bangladesh, which is another area that IFC is keen to invest in, the release added.
“IFC remains committed to the country – especially in the wake of the impact of Covid-19. During the first 18 months of the pandemic, we have invested $470 million to help businesses and sustain jobs,” said Martin Holtmann.
“These investments are helping keep businesses afloat, resume exports, and preserve jobs. We intend to invest another further $250 million during the current fiscal year ending in June 2022.”
Since 2010, IFC has invested over $3.5 billion to help the private sector grow in Bangladesh.
Over the next five years, IFC has a target of a nearly $5 billion investment programme in diversified sectors such as light engineering, economic zones, financial and capital markets, and growth-enabling sustainable infrastructure.