Ibrahim Hassouna isn’t surprised when electricity fails at the Gaza plastics company where he works.
On most days, up to dozens of blackouts halt assembly lines and render the company’s 130 employees idle. “Every time the current goes out, it delays production for up to 30 minutes,” says Hassouna, a 41-year-old manager.
Hassouna’s frustration is felt across Gaza, which is facing one of its worst power crises. Gaza’s only power plant suffers from lack of fuel, aging feeding lines, and damage caused by wars. Blackouts have devastated the territory’s manufacturing sector, which has shriveled by 60 percent since the late 1990s.
IFC is helping reverse that decline. In 2018, we launched a Maximizing Finance for Development initiative — working with other members of the World Bank Group — to finance a $12 million solar project in Gaza to ease the energy shortage. The 7-megawatt rooftop solar-power plant will provide critical energy to 32 factories in the Gaza Industrial Estate — much more cheaply than before. The project will create around 800 jobs.
Across the Middle East and North Africa, economic growth rates have halved since 2011. Youth unemployment is high, and conflict has displaced vast numbers of people. That’s why the region is a priority for IFC. In FY18, we invested more than $2 billion in the region, including $1 billion mobilized from other investors. Our clients provided jobs for more than 119,000 people, health care for more than 2.9 million people, and phone connections for about 1 million people.
IFC is also helping to transform Iraq’s Salahaddin Holding — a leading player in banking, construction, and manufacturing — by bringing more internal discipline and control to management decision-making, clarifying responsibility, authority and roles, and improving the training of leaders.
In Egypt, IFC made a $75 million equity investment in Apex International Energy, which aims to be the country’s largest oil-and-gas production platform. IFC Asset Management Company mobilized an additional $25 million for the project. The project is expected to increase Egypt’s oil-and-gas reserves by the equivalent of 100 million barrels of oil by 2023.