Development impact: More Than Just Numbers

In Game Changers 13, Introducer Game Changers and World NGOs' Best Impact 13 by Mary Kurek

Development finance institution OFID mobilizes public, private and grant support,
and engages in collective action, to maximize the impact of its development work
By OFID Director-General Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa

The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) is a development finance institution set up in 1976 by OPEC member countries to support the socioeconomic progress of non-OPEC developing nations. We are unique in that we support all developing countries apart from our own.

OFID’s monetary commitments to international development – more than US$23bn to date – are impressive. But it’s the development impact of our work – as well as how it supports the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – that is really important. OFID is currently focused on growing this impact. We are also prioritizing efficiency gains to ensure we remain agile enough to be led by the demands of developing countries in their quest for progress.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global agreement and serve to focus the world’s development efforts. OFID’s finance and support on the ground help our developing country partners to achieve national development plans and other SDG-linked priorities.

To demonstrate our impact, I would like to share a few short examples of recent projects from across our public, private, and grant operations about how we’re helping to improve access to energy for rural communities in low and middle-income countries so that people may lead more fulfilling and productive lives; how we continue to focus on the issues surrounding migration, even when the media’s interest wanes; and how we’ve helped hospitals to treat and prevent more and more complex health issues.

AZP Suriname (Credit: OFID Staff)

A recent example in this respect is OFID’s support of the construction and rehabilitation of healthcare facilities in Suriname, which includes a major renovation of the Academic Hospital Paramaribo (AZP) – the country’s main referral and teaching hospital that is now serving some 350,000 patients per year. The AZP is the only facility in Suriname that provides emergency and trauma services, and intensive care, in addition to surgical procedures related to cardiology, neurology, ophthalmology and more.

Similarly, the Manisa Education and Research Hospital in Turkey now looks like a cross between a high-tech office complex and a futuristic housing campus. Located in the country’s western Aegean Region, this is an innovative primary healthcare project – away from the capital – serving people who may otherwise not have had access to such high-quality care. It combines a health facility offering multiple in- and out-patient services with an educational and research facility. The 178,000 m3, 558-bed hospital is partially funded by a private sector loan from OFID, which worked with one of its long-standing partners, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), to co-finance the hospital’s construction. Other finance was provided by the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, Siemens Bank, and Turkish participation bank Ziraat Katilim Bankasi.

Manisa Hospital (Credit Kursova Photography)

Another good example of collective action and multilateralism in support of the global goals – as well as the far-reaching potential impact of our development operations – is the term loan that OFID has signed with Nachtigal Hydropower Company. The loan will contribute to the development, construction, and operation of a 420 MW hydropower plant in Cameroon. The Nachtigal project is being developed as a public-private partnership by a joint venture between the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Electricité de France, and the government of Cameroon, with support from the World Bank Group.

Once in operation, the plant will be the country’s largest generator of electricity, meeting about one-third of Cameroon’s electricity needs. Presently, an estimated nine million people, including the vast majority of Cameroon’s rural population, lack access to electricity. The project is thought to be one of the largest foreign direct investments in Cameroon. The long-term debt financing committed to the project was provided by the Africa Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank, and the European Investment Bank as well as local banks and other development actors.

OFID also develops partnerships closer to home (our headquarters are in Vienna) which also promise significant development impact. A new policy report by the Austria-based International Centre for Migration Policy Development ICMPD titled Bridging Refugee Protection and Development provides guidance to policymakers, donors, and development and humanitarian organizations about potential policy options to be implemented in refugee-hosting countries. The options provided by the report cater to both the development needs of the host countries and the protection needs of refugees at the same time.

While the report builds on previously-issued policy guidance, it is based mainly on qualitative research and consultations with stakeholders in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. This is because the best-placed countries to provide lessons on hosting refugees to global actors (and other host countries) are the major refugee-hosting countries themselves. The report isn’t aimed at these countries in particular – all countries can learn from their experiences and act on these lessons; Europe and the rest of the world included.

The report is the result of the project Study on Refugee Protection and Development:  Assessing the Development-Displacement Nexus in Regional Protection Policies. The study was co-funded by OFID and feedback to strengthen the draft report was provided by participants of an OFID-hosted development-displacement nexus roundtable on policy options in October of 2018.

This is just a glimpse of a vast array of stories we will be sharing in the months ahead to further promote the importance of sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda.

Dr. Alkhalifa (Credit OFID Multimedia)


Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa is the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of OFID – the OPEC Fund for International Development. Prior to his appointment at OFID, Dr. Alkhalifa was Deputy Secretary General of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund from 2014 to 2018 and advisor to the Secretary-General from 2010 to 2014. He has also held a number of leadership positions at the World Bank Group and served the government of Saudi Arabia in various capacities.

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