EBRD Pledges to Enhance Tajikistan’s Regional Connectivity – Holger Wiefel (Exclusive Interview)


Under the new country strategy extending until 2025, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is committed to enhancing Tajikistan’s infrastructure, bolstering regional connectivity, and expanding employment opportunities within the country, Holger Wiefel, the Head of Tajikistan for EBRD, told Trend in an exclusive interview.

“The EBRD’s recently approved country strategy until 2025 addresses issues such as a volatile macroeconomic environment, a challenging business climate and vulnerability to climate change. Our investments in Tajikistan are aimed at making the economy green, digital, inclusive and resilient,” he said.

Wiefel highlighted that the EBRD’s activities in Tajikistan align with a country strategy collaboratively developed with the government, aimed at bolstering the resilience, modernization, digitalization, and regional integration of the national economy.

“We firmly believe in the importance of trade for Tajikistan. In addition to offering trade finance schemes to domestic exporters and importers, we are also looking at modernising Tajikistan’s key infrastructure important for the sustainability of international and regional trade,” he added.

Wiefel stressed that special attention given to the development of Tajikistan’s agricultural sector, which employs nearly half of the country’s workforce and contributes more than 22.5 percent to the gross domestic product. EBRD actively collaborates with partner banks to support micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in Tajikistan.

He highlighted the successful completion of various EBRD projects, with 67 percent of investments last year being green. Additionally, EBRD funded the first green taxi project across all the economies it operates in.

Wiefel went on to detail specific EBRD projects in Tajikistan, such as the completion of a significant 10-year infrastructure project in water management, which received EBRD funding and support from the EU and Switzerland. This project provided uninterrupted access to clean and safe drinking water for more than 400,000 people in 13 municipalities and introduced climate-resilient water supply and treatment infrastructure.

He also mentioned the Sugd Energy Loss Reduction Project, co-financed by the EU Investment Fund for Central Asia and the European Investment Bank (EIB), which improved power supply reliability and reduced electricity losses through advanced metering infrastructure.

According to him, the Qairokkum HPP rehabilitation project was another point of pride, as EBRD mobilized concessional financing from Climate Investment Funds and the Green Climate Fund. This financing supported the modernization of a 60-year-old hydropower plant that provides electricity to 500,000 people. As part of the project, professional training was offered to energy sector professionals to help them adopt best practices for mitigating climate change in hydropower plant operations.

Wiefel revealed the launch of the $50 million Tajikistan Green Economy Financing Facility II (GEFF Tajikistan II), which aims to promote higher energy and resource efficiency standards and support the country’s transition to a more environmentally friendly economy. This program encourages residential and commercial borrowers to invest in green and innovative solutions for efficient water use and sustainable land management, providing better access to green technologies and climate adaptation in a country severely affected by climate change.

He added that GEFF Tajikistan II builds upon the foundation of the initial Green Economy Financing Facility I (GEFF Tajikistan I), which received support from the EU and operated from 2019 to 2023. GEFF Tajikistan I effectively facilitated over 4,600 sub-projects, resulting in an annual production of more than 24,000 MWh of energy savings, a reduction of 5,195 tons in CO2 emissions, and a decrease in water consumption by 5.2 million cubic meters.

“The development of green economy and decarbonization plans are integral to Tajikistan’s agenda. This is an irreversible global trend, and the country recognizes the need and urgency of this work. The EBRD stands ready to provide its expertise and financial resources to assist the authorities,” he said.

Furthermore, he mentioned that over the past 30 years, the EBRD has been an active supporter of Tajikistan’s banking sector through equity investments, lines of credit for micro-, small, and medium-sized companies, trade finance facilities, syndicated loans, and risk-sharing schemes.

“The bank has historically provided almost 250 million euros to Tajik banks and microfinance institutions, which have then directed these funds toward numerous green, agribusiness, and digital projects, as well as supporting women entrepreneurs. Nearly 115 million euros (or 46 percent) of this amount were allocated to aid Tajik exporters and importers within the framework of the Bank’s Trade Facilitation Programme,” he explained.

The Trade Facilitation Programme, initiated in 1999, was designed to enhance and streamline trade activities among the economies where the EBRD has made investments.

Wiefel further emphasized that equity investments are among the options considered for the development of Tajikistan’s banking sector when appropriate opportunities arise.

“Throughout these years, the EBRD has enjoyed excellent cooperation with Tajikistan’s authorities, both central and regional, as well as the business community, which has enabled the bank to invest over 900 million euros in nearly 160 projects across the country. Our funds have supported commendable entrepreneurial initiatives and vital upgrades in various sectors, ranging from energy and transportation to banking and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” Wiefel said.

Source: Trend News Agency