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Opinion

Shareholders snub EBRD’s African ambitions

For the moment, Africa looks to be a step too far.

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Much to the delight of sun-starved Europeans, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s annual meeting was held this year on the banks of the Dead Sea in Jordan. 

It was the first time the bank’s staff and followers had convened in the south and eastern Mediterranean (Semed), the region it began expanding into after the Arab Spring. As well as Jordan, its countries of operation there include Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco – and, since last year, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. 

For the most part, the event went smoothly, the sun shone and a good time was had by all. There were a few cultural misunderstandings. The Jordanians presumably thought it would be an elegant tribute to have a local choir sing a Russian song from the Second World War celebrating the Katyusha rocket launcher at the opening session, but the Ukrainian delegation was unappreciative. 

They got their own back though. The Ukraine investment outlook session was packed out and lively, in sharp contrast to the Russia event. The latter, the first held at an EBRD meeting since the bank’s shareholders voted in 2014 to freeze operations in Russia, was sparsely attended.


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