EBRD governance, Bahrain fintech and Ghana for EMEA Finance magazine

Phil had three articles published in the latest edition of EMEA Finance magazine in May 2019. They looked at three diverse issues – the rules governing investments by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the success of fintech in Bahrain and the strategy of Ghana’s finance minister

The article on the reform of the governance rules that apply to loans made by the EBRD was based on a conversation with Alistair Clark, Managing Director for Environment and Sustainability. It looked at the bank’s ambition for the reform and how the various consultations with stakeholders had gone. It also highlighted concerns raised by NGOs who believe that the EBRD is failing to be as transparent as other IFIs. The article is here.

A longer feature looked at how Bahrain had moved swiftly to establish itself as one of the world’s centres for financial technology (fintech). It looked at how the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) launched the first in a series of initiatives that aimed to make the kingdom the Middle East’s centre for international innovation and finance. Phil spoke with a number of major players in the kingdom. The article is here.

A profile of Ghana’s minister of finance Ken Ofori-Atta looked at how the former Wall Street investment banker has taken firm action to steady the economy by resolving seven troubled banks and overseeing Ghana’s successful exit from a $185m four-year loan from the International Monetary Fund. The article is here.

Focus on World Bank and Bahrain for EMEA Finance

Phil Thornton contributed two articles to the latest edition of the EMEA Finance magazine out in February 2018. The first was based on a talk with Kristina Georgieva, the new chief exucirve of the World Bank. At the heart of her agenda is achieving the multilateral’s goals of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity. Georgieva, who was EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, sees her mission as turning this instrument into an “incentive for people to do the right thing”. “If a country has a lend-management policy for forestry to be protected, not to be chopped down, then the insurance premium ought to have a discount. As a donor, as a finance community, we are funding this discount.” The other angle is to focus on middle income countries — where 50 per cent of poor people still live — and especially in higher-risk economies where the task is to make sure that jobs are created. The article is here.

The second article was an analysis of the success that Bahrain has had in attracting foreign investment to the small island kingdom. We looked at how Bahrain’s economic development board has set out a strategy to attract foreign direct investment and SMEs that will both create jobs and help the Kingdom exploit modern technologies.EDB managing director Simon Galpin set out why Bahrain was investing in a whole raft of projects valued at over £32bn, is equivalent to oits annual GDP. These include the expansion of the airport, the US$5bn upgrading of all the major oil refineries in Bahrain, the enlargement of the Alba aluminium smelter to make it the largest in the world, and a second direct connection to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia for both road and rail to connect to Saudi Arabia and complement the existing King Fahd Causeway. The second factor is what Galpin calls “soft infrastructure” — reforms of business regulations that allows 100% foreign ownership and a revision of insolvency laws aimed at fostering innovation and entrepreneurship by modernising and streamlining the bankruptcy procedures.“ The third trend, which is connected to the regulatory overhaul, is the decision by the Central Bank of Bahrain to introduce the first “regulatory sandbox”. The article is here.