ADFD announces allocation of $25bn in development funding and investments in 90 countries

Since inception in July 1971, the fund has disbursed billions in concessionary loans, government grants and investments

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), an Emirati national entity for international development aid, has announced that it has allocated $25 billion in development funding and investments to 90 beneficiary countries.

In a statement, the fund said that since its inception on July 15, 1971, it has disbursed $11.7 billion in concessionary loans, $12.5 billion in UAE government grants, and $816.7 million in investments. Along with its core operations, ADFD has fostered innovative partnerships with the private sector and international funding institutions to help consolidate the UAE’s prominent status among global foreign aid providers.

“The Abu Dhabi fund’s support for socio-economic development in developing countries over the past four and a half decades, especially in the last five years, has significantly contributed to the UAE retaining the prestigious title of the world’s top donor of official development assistance relative to national income between 2013 and 2017,” the statement said, adding that this endorsement was reported by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Focused on key socio-economic sectors, including health, education, housing, water, irrigation, agriculture and renewable energy, ADFD’s development funding aims to support the national priorities of developing countries, bolster sustainable economic development, improve standards of living and drive the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In addition, ADFD holds equity stakes in numerous companies and private equity funds, the statement said, explaining that these investments serve various key sectors and drive economic development and job creation in beneficiary countries. To date, the Fund has invested in 13 companies and four private equity funds across Africa, Asia and Europe.

It has also adopted a policy of financing UAE private sector investments. In order to enhance competitiveness and to enable investment opportunities, the policy aims to lay the foundations and guidelines for providing funding for national private sector investments in the UAE and abroad, it adds.

“Over the last 48 years, the Fund marked significant economic development milestones all over the world. Since its establishment by the founding father of the UAE, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and continuing under the UAE leadership, it has succeeded in boosting the growth of key sectors in developing countries,” said Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, ADFD director general, speaking at a ceremony marking the success of the fund over the last four decades.

“ADFD works as a strategic partner with the governments of the beneficiary countries to support their development programmes and objectives with a focus on financing projects that improve infrastructure and elevate living standards. We are committed to continuing our noble journey of assisting developing nations in their sustainable development endeavours,” remarked Al Suwaidi.

In addition, ADFD has amended its tendering system to give 10% preference to national companies that pass the technical assessment and financial qualification stage outlined in the Fund’s tender policy for grant projects, he stated.

Over the last 10 years, its efforts have facilitated business deals worth $4.49 billion for UAE companies to implement ADFD-funded projects in developing countries, he added.

The Abu Dhabi fund is currently in the process of finalising a UAE-wide national export financing programme to provide financing and guarantee facilities to boost export rates and open new markets, the statement said.

In line with the UAE Vision 2021 and Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, aimed at advancing economic diversification as a pillar of sustainable development, the programme seeks to enhance the competitiveness of the national economy in international markets through expanding the range of export products and commodities.

ADFD was established in 1971 with a starting operating capital worth $136 million. Over the years, the Fund has registered steady financial growth and expanded its footprint across the globe. ​​​​​​​​​​ADFD’s operating capital today is $4.35 billion.

The following is a brief overview of the sectors wise spending by ADFD:

Education sector

It has funded 129 development projects in the education sector with a total value of $680.5 million. Benefiting 14 developing countries, these projects have supported SDG 4 – Quality Education.

The Fund has financed the establishment of more than 40 schools to increase education levels and help eradicate illiteracy. It has also provided funds to 35 universities and colleges for building construction and renovation, as well as upgrades of infrastructure, equipment and processes in line with international standards.

Through building capabilities and imparting knowledge, the education sector plays an integral role in driving the growth of key socio-economic sectors.

Healthcare sector

ADFD has financed 78 healthcare projects in 16 countries with a total value of $1.08 billiom.

The Fund’s interest in the sector reflects its keenness to support international efforts aimed at achieving SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being.

Seeking to provide quality medical services to the populations of the beneficiary countries, ADFD has funded the construction of hospitals and treatment centres, the purchase of medical equipment and medicines, and the implementation of preventive health programmes.

Housing sector

The Emirati fund pays special attention to sectors that have a significant impact on people’s lives and meet their basic needs, such as housing. This sector plays a crucial role in social stability.

According to ADFD, the housing crises and limited financial resources are among the main challenges faced by the governments of developing countries due to rapid population growth and the rise in rural-urban migration that has led to the proliferation of informal communities lacking even the most basic infrastructure.

This trend has resulted in marginalising large segments of the population and minimising their contribution to economic development, thus increasing the burden on the governments.

In line with its overall goal of transforming people’s lives, ADFD is keen to implement quality, inclusive and comprehensive housing projects built to the highest engineering, architectural and sustainability standards, in addition to ensuring the provision of necessary services and infrastructure, such as access roads and a reliable water and electricity supply.

ADFD has till date funded 47 housing projects with a total value of $2.12 billion.

Water sector

A total of 108 water sector projects, worth Dh8 billion, have been completed in 56 countries have been completed with.

To support SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, ADFD has financed the construction of 63 dams and the implementation of 30 drinking water and irrigation networks. Having contributed to the development and reclamation of vast areas of agricultural land, its strategic water projects have also helped enhance food security in beneficiary countries.

Transport sector

ADFD has contributed to the financing of 95 strategic transportation projects with a total value of $3.81 billion in 44 countries around the world.

The exorbitant cost of building efficient transport networks is a major obstacle, as many developing countries lack sufficient funds for such projects, which often hampers the execution of their socio-economic development plans.

Renewable energy sector

ADFD has funded 70 development projects in the renewable energy sector around the world worth $1.19 billion that have brought online about 2,584 MW of renewable energy capacity.

Since 1974, the Fund has contributed about $735 million to renewable energy projects through joint financing agreements with the governments of developing countries.


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