The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has approved $200m in financing to help Union Bank of Nigeria expand its lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and to invest in upgrades of the bank’s digital banking projects.
The funding is part of nearly $900m the U.S Government’s development finance institution, on Thursday, approved during its final board meeting of the fiscal year, in financing and political risk insurance across seven projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
According to OPIC President and CEO, Ray Washburne, lending to women-led and women-owned businesses will also benefit from the Nigeria’s share of the financing.
OPIC President also added that the funding would provide a “robust alternative to China’s ‘debt trap’ diplomacy.”
“At a time when the worlds emerging markets are in a great need of development finance, OPIC’s support for these projects will mobilize private investment through a model that is financially sustainable, promotes American best standards and protects local communities and workers,” noted Washburne.
It is recalled that Nigeria recently signed a $500m infrastructure loan facility with the China Exim Bank as announced at the last Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit.
The OPIC’s initiatives launched over the past year include the 2X Women’s Initiative, the Connect Africa Initiative, the northern Triangle Initiative (to promote stability in Central America) as well as the Indo-Pacific Initiative.
Other countries benefiting from the $895m development finance include Ghana with $100m for infrastructure projects through CAL Bank, Ethiopia with $126m for agricultural business, Guatemala getting $150m for a home ownership project and South and Southeast Asia getting $150m for health care.
El Salvador, jointly with Panama, and Paraguay also got $75m and $93.75m for mortgage lending and SMEs respectively.
OPIC is a self sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets, gain footholds in new markets, catalyse new revenue and contribute to jobs and growth both in U.S and abroad.