The Business Year

Abdulwahab A. Al Bader

KUWAIT - Diplomacy

Lending Terms

Director General, Kuwait Fund for Development

Bio

Abdulwahab A. Al Bader is the Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Development. He joined the Kuwait Fund in 1978 as an Economist, before becoming a Director of Operations in 1983. After this, he was promoted to Deputy Director-General of Operations in 1986 and then Deputy Director-General in 1988 before taking his current position in 2005. He has a BA in Economics.

TBY talks to Abdulwahab A. Al Bader, Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Development, on how funding is allocated, current projects, and the outlook for 2016.

What is the impact of the Kuwait Fund’s investments and projects internationally?

We target not just specific sectors but rather the desired projects of different countries. Depending on the country we are investing in, we might have some overall sector preferences that stand out such as social, education, or basic natural resources, such as water. If those sectors are within the preferred consideration of projects, they receive extra attention in terms of lending. The priority of the country comes first, as do the economic benefits of the specific developments in the country. Recent projects have ranged from schools to electricity and drinking water for cities like Havana, Cuba. We have supported a lot of projects in Uzbekistan, Cuba, China, Egypt, and Lebanon. We totaled 13 projects by March 2015, which is typically a busy month for us.

What is the criteria you use when providing grants for a project?

Normally, when we receive a request, we consider it based on available infrastructure taking into account the status of project when we analyze the technical information. We take initial approval from the board in conjunction with the studies provided, and after the appraisal we are then able to give a grant. The process varies depending on the project, and countries will not always come in with studies fully prepared. Most of the projects require a complete financing plan, and most countries are still in the middle of this process when they first present to us.

What are some of the challenges the Kuwait Fund faces in financing aid and development projects?

Normally in any project, the biggest challenge is in procurement. Because regulations may differ, we need to prepare for any potential problems. Agreeing on specific procurement can be a challenge at times, but it is our necessary priority to agree on financing plans. At the moment, we are collaboratively working on what we call parallel financing, in which we work with different partners on the varying aspects of financing one project. Some of the projects have specific regulations and are required to have local financiers or contractors.

What are the Fund’s priorities when it comes to aid allocation?

At the moment, we do not have a specific formula for allocation as much as an occasional commitment to a specific disaster or situation. In general, our allocations are based in Arab countries by mandate; Arab countries need to be no less than 50% of our commitment. We work to fulfill that as well as allocate funds for countries elsewhere, dividing contracts based on need.

Have any projects been especially successful?

We like to consider every project a success story, though the rate of success is always evidenced by seeing firsthand the before and after. This is, of course, difficult with some 800 projects. I, however, have seen many projects from start to finish, and it is always rewarding. We were especially encouraged by an irrigation project funded in China due to the people’s tremendous reaction upon its completion. Our tendency is to fund large projects with overall economic impact rather than a focus on an individual group. There is still nothing more rewarding than, for example, seeing a hydroelectric dam provide much needed water to a group of people.

How important is it for others to see Kuwait Fund as a partner in development?

At this point, that is exactly what we were created for, to be a development aid for institutions. Certainly, we should be perceived as a partner in development. We are working in 104 countries around the world and cooperating with even more.

What are your expectations for Kuwait Fund in 2016?

We are working on plans for a specific program, and given that there are currently no obstacles, we hope to make progress on that. By 2016, we hope the conflict in Yemen will have come to an end. We have some programs that we are looking at right now on behalf of the government so that we can help fulfill some of Yemen’s governmental obligations.

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