Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, which was established in December 1961, just a few months following the country independence, was created with the sincere desire to provide monetary and technical assistance to Arab states to support their efforts to achieve economic and social development, and to promote cooperation and friendship between Kuwait and these countries. In July 1974 the Fund was reorganized and its mandate was expanded to include the provision of providing assistance to developing countries in general, in addition to Arab countries, and thereby promote the role of Kuwait in the international community.
Since its inception, the object of the Fund has been to assist countries through loans, guarantees and grants, as well as providing technical assistance for development projects in various sectors, including primarily in agriculture and irrigation, transport and communication, energy, industry, water and sewage. The Fund has also contributed to capital stocks of international and regional development finance institutions and other development institutions and represented the State of Kuwait in such institutions. Presenting the 54th Annual Report of the development operations of the Fund for the fiscal year 2015/16 that ended on 31 March, 2016, the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kuwait Fund, H.E. Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, reiterated that the Fund had continued its objective of assisting developing nations in their efforts to achieve their development goals and further improve the standard of living of their people and societies.
The report shows that from its establishment in 1961 to the end of fiscal year 2015/ 2016, the Fund had extended 911 loans with a total value of KD5.6 billion. During this period, the Fund’s loans, grants and technical assistance had benefitted a total of 105 countries, including 16 Arab countries, 41 African countries, 19 East, South Asian and Pacific Countries, 17 Central Asian and European countries, and 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries. In addition, the Fund provided grants and technical assistance with a value of about KD94 million to finance various activities, including around KD61 million for the reconstruction of areas in The Gaza Strip and about KD30 million in support of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries.
The Fund also continued the implementation of His Highness the Amir’s directive to the Fund, at the Third Arab Summit in 2013, to provide concessional loans to an amount of US$1 billion to finance development projects in African countries over five years. However, the Fund is not all about just providing loans, grants and technical assistance to support development in other countries; it also has an internal component that aims to further development within the country. To further this aim, the Fund has over the years remained committed to developing human resources in the country, based on the belief that such assets form the linchpin of Kuwait’s future growth and development.
In this regard, in 2004, the Fund launched a program to train newly graduated Kuwaiti engineers and architects in order to prepare them to work in the private sector. The program has been implemented in three stages. The first stage aims to strengthen the basic skills of graduates through a number of intensive lectures and workshops for a period of three months. The second stage involves practical training, during which the trainees join international companies to enhance their awareness of modern engineering ways and to provide them with experience through giving them assignments over a period of 6 months outside Kuwait. The third stage is centered on field training, during which the trainee joins Kuwaiti Companies to apply the skills acquired during the previous two stages through a number of responsibilities delegated to him. So far over 22 groups have undergone training under the program.
On another front, the Fund has been active in attempting to solve the country’s housing shortage by issuing bonds to the tune of KD100 million every year for five years in favor the Credit Bank of Kuwait and setting aside 25 percent of the Fund’s profits every year for infrastructure projects in the country. The Fund also supports and encourages the private sector in the country by giving preference to Kuwaiti companies in the execution of projects financed by it. In addition, the Fund encourages Kuwaiti and foreign companies associated with it to use local materials and products, as well as obliging Kuwaiti companies to use the national banking and financial services.
The Fund also obtains the agreement of borrowing countries to use Kuwaiti financial institutions and services. In this regard it is worth noting that since the Fund’s establishment until December 2009, more than 200 projects worth over KD280 million were executed by 314 Kuwaiti companies and the foreign firms associated with them In another related sphere, and within the framework of supporting the Government’s policy of achieving comprehensive development of the country, the Fund financed, managed and prepared the studies related to building a new port in Bobyan Island to the north of Kuwait.
The comprehensive development plan for the port incorporates a free-trade zone, a storage area and an industrial town that are expected to stimulate economic and social activities on this strategic island, which occupies nearly five percent of Kuwait's total area. Bobyan Port will also be instrumental in pushing forward Kuwait’s vision to be a transport, commercial and financial hub for effective economic activities in the area.