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BRICS Bank ‘open for business’ Zuma declares

President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday that the New Development Bank (NDB) was set to benefit infrastructure projects on the African continent as a whole, and having a permanent regional centre showed commitment to that undertaking.

“We are, therefore, happy to know that the bank is working on expanding its membership to other countries beyond BRICS. We certainly trust that African countries will be among the first to take up membership at the New Development Bank,” Zuma said.

“We expect that the bank, through the Africa Regional Centre, will contribute to accelerating infrastructure investment in energy, transport, water and other productive sectors.”

Zuma was speaking at the launch of the African Regional Centre of the NDB in Sandton, where he said the BRICS bank would benefit not only BRICS countries, but also the whole of Africa and the developing world as a whole.

The possibility of setting up the NDB was first considered at the fourth BRICS Summit in New Delhi by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in a bid to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies.

The bank was set up with an initial authorised capital of US $100 billion, with the initial subscribed capital of US $50 billion equally shared among founding members.

In 2015, the New Development Bank was launched with the opening of the head office in Shanghai, China. The bank last year issued its first set of loans amounting to U.S.$1.5 billion dollars, approximately R20 billion, to fund renewable energy projects in member countries.

Zuma said he had been most pleased at the progress made in the two years of the bank’s existence.

“The bank’s very first green bond issuance in the Chinese capital market, mobilising about US $450 million in the process is also noteworthy. And most recently, the approval of a general strategy that will guide the bank’s operations in the next five years demonstrates that we are on the right path,” Zuma said.

Zuma said the bank’s next mission would be to start the process to consider new members and finalise the project pipeline for the second batch of loans to be offered in the 2017/2018 financial year, adding that the African continent had great expectations for the New Development Bank.

“I am encouraged by the recent announcement made at the Second Annual Meeting of the New Development Bank Board of Governors in New Delhi to increase the bank’s lending to U.S.$2.5 billion in the 2017/2018 financial year. This announcement has come at an opportune time for South Africa as we need more projects,” Zuma said.

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