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European union bank to invest in SA universities, SMEs

The European Investment Bank says it is planning to avail funding to several small and medium enterprises and universities in South Africa with a view to contributing to development.

In an interview with SAnews on the side-lines of  The European House-Ambrosetti (THE-A) economic summit, Carmelo Cocuzza, the Bank’s head of regional representation in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean, said these were amongst several investment opportunities that the European Union Bank was aiming for in the near future.

He said this when speaking about potential opportunities that were presented at the summit.

“We are now looking at funding educational projects, particularly in tertiary education.

“We are starting now to approach several universities … but we are yet to develop a funding programme.

“We are also talking to banks with a view of supporting small and medium enterprises financing in the private sector because there are many small project which we cannot finance directly,” he said.

The investment bank finances African projects that have synergy with European policies, including public-private partnerships.

Cocuzza said the research conducted by THE-A will help investors understand what opportunities await them in the manufacturing, energy and agriculture industries.

“I think it is important that investors get an overall perspective with the business climate of South Africa and that is what they are getting with the presence of government here at the summit,” he said.

He said the bank had sponsored several projects in South Africa, including injecting millions of Euros to bankroll Eskom’s concentrated solar power plant in Upington in the Northern Cape.

“We also supported government in its affordable housing programme through the big four local banks to improve the social housing conditions in South Africa.

“We are providing 150 million Euros and I believe over 400 houses to be built,” he said.

He said the cash injection was finalised last year.

Cocuzza also said that the bank funded several other South African projects, including sponsoring 80 million Euros for the construction of the R21 freeway project, amongst others.

He said the bank has invested over one billion Euros since 1994.

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