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South African bank secures continent’s ‘first green loan’

The International Finance Corp (IFC) today announced it will provide credit of up to $150 million to Johannesburg-based lender Absa Bank to finance renewable energy and climate change-related projects it what it labeled “Africa’s first certified green loan.”

The finance, which complies with the green loan principles stipulated by London-based lending-market membership body the Loan Market Association, will finance “biomass and other renewable energy projects in South Africa,” said the IFC, the private-sector arm of the World Bank.

Africa’s green transition requires considerable mobilization of funds,” said Jason Quinn, interim group chief executive for Absa. “The agreement with [the] IFC bolsters our funding available for green projects and strengthens Absa’s position as a leader in financing renewable projects in South Africa.”

The news came just a day after the IFC said it would help the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Ghana draw up guidelines for the issue of green bonds. The IFC said it had issued “roughly” 170 green bonds, worth more than $10 billion, in 20 currencies.

The Ghana initiative is part of the multilateral lender’s green bond market development program, which is backed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the government of Luxembourg.

“Finding new avenues for green financing is a key priority for [the] IFC,” said the development lender’s country manager for Ghana, Ronke Ogunsulire. “Our partnership with the SEC to design the framework for green bonds in Ghana will, in turn, help Ghana achieve its climate goals with projects that create jobs and spur economic growth.”

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