The French Development Agency (AFD) is a public financial institution which implements the policies defined by the French government and works to promote sustainable development for more than seventy years. Present on four continents through a network of more than 70 offices, it funds and accompanies projects and programs aimed at improving the living conditions of the population, maintaining economic growth and protecting the planet.
After obtaining a permission to conduct research in Uzbekistan in June 2009, the AFD formally received an authorization in 2011 to conduct its activities in the country within the mandate aimed at promoting “green and solidary growth”. To develop its activities in Uzbekistan, the Agency opened a representative office in Tashkent in August 2015, which is located in the building of the Embassy of France and accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
In July of this year, the Editor-in-Chief of the “EBU” magazine, who visited France as part of the delegation, met in Paris with the Chief Executive Officer of the French Development Agency (AFD) Remi Genevey. He had a chance to talk with him about the activities of the Agency in the world, the development of Uzbek-French relations and projects implemented in our country with the support of the AFD.
– Mr. Genevey, tell us about the main activities of the organization in the international economic platform. What are the main goals and objectives of the French Development Agency?
– With regard to bilateral relations, the activities of the AFD Group are very similar to those of the World Bank Group. On a multilateral level the Agency is viewed as a mechanism to assist developing countries at the formal level. Like the World Bank, the AFD can provide grants and loans to the public sector, national governments or, in some cases, local authorities and even state-owned enterprises, with or without government guarantees. The AFD Group comprises of a private sector arm “Proparco” in the form of subsidiary, which is dedicated to providing loans or to investing in equity. The Agency is the oldest development bank in the world, it was established before the World Bank, in 1941, during the World War II. It was initially meant to finance the French Resistance Forces. Then it evolved to a company dedicated to financing the former French settlements in Africa, and after their independence to financing the development of newly independent states first in Africa then throughout the world. The AFD’s mission is to finance, support and accelerate processes in sustainable development.
– Can You tell us about the key areas of work?
– It depends on the field of activity. The AFD works in many sectors: energy, health, biodiversity, water resources, digital technologies, training. The Agency is active in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean and the overseas territories of France, where it finances and supports projects that improve the living conditions of the population, promote economic growth and protect the planet. In the poorest countries, poverty reduction and sustainable development are the main objectives, and this is particularly true in Africa. The AFD has also focused on combating climate change or adapting countries to the effects of climate change, and has done so since 2005. We have been working in this direction for more than 10 years. The climate change theme has been the backdrop of everything we do.
In Africa and other poor countries much attention is paid to financing in the social sphere, such as health and education. Most of the world’s poorest countries are in Africa. And Africa is also a continent where the AFD originally started its operations, so it has remained a very important concern for us. And this is the continent for us where we use the most part of French taxpayers’ money. These funds are included in our loans or grants. Of course, we finance many infrastructure projects around the world that are related to the fight against climate change. This is typical for our activities in most countries.
I will repeat that Africa is where we originally started our operations, and I must also add that the extension of AFD’s area of operation has taken place over 75 years of existence. And the most recent addition to our area of operation are the countries in Asia and Central Asia. So Uzbekistan is the country where we started operations 6 years ago – one of the most recent additions. What is also rather special is that we have many local representative offices. We are represented in 80 countries with field offices, some of them regional. We also have an office in Tashkent.
– Over the past two years, large-scale reforms are being carried out in Uzbekistan. What is the level of participation of the AFD in these reforms? What are the priority areas of cooperation between Uzbekistan and France?