6 May 2021

Africa’s first certified green loan to Absa Bank Ltd, announced today by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), will increase funding for biomass and other renewable energy projects in South Africa. The loan will also support the country’s power sector and economic recovery from COVID-19. IFC is a member of the World Bank Group.

IFC will provide Absa, one of Africa’s largest financial services groups, with a loan of up to $150 million to support the bank’s strategy to expand its climate finance business and help South Africa meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The loan is the first certified loan in Africa that complies with the Green Loan Principles. This means that lending by Absa for green projects will be disclosed, improving transparency and encouraging other banks to follow the principles. In addition to the loan, IFC will provide technical advice and knowledge sharing to help the bank develop a green, social and sustainable bonds and loans framework.

“Africa’s green transition requires considerable mobilization of funds,” said Jason Quinn, Absa Interim Group Chief Executive. “The agreement with IFC bolsters our funding available for green projects and strengthens Absa’s position as a leader in financing renewable projects in South Africa,” he said. Absa is the leader in arranging financing for South Africa’s Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme, having structured and arranged financing for approximately 46% of projects concluded under the programme to date.

“Financial institutions and the private sector have an important role to play helping South Africa to rebuild greener and more sustainably from the impact of COVID-19,” said Adamou Labara, IFC's Country Manager for South Africa. “By increasing funding for renewable energy and climate smart projects we can help South Africa strengthen its climate change resilience and increase climate change adaptation.”

South Africa has set the goals of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2025 and its reliance on coal by 2050. Today, 90% of the country’s electricity is generated by coal-fired plants. 

IFC estimates that there is a $588 billion investment opportunity in climate mitigation across selected sectors in South Africa between now and 2030. The project with Absa is in line with a climate initiative IFC launched in January 2020 to help financial institutions in South Africa, Egypt, Mexico, and the Philippines to mobilize private sector financing for climate mitigation and adaptation projects, and help align financial-sector strategies with Paris Climate Agreement targets.

In South Africa, financial institutions are critical sources of climate finance, with commercial banks currently providing 67% of the financing for renewable energy projects.

This is IFC's fourth investment dedicated to green finance in South Africa's financial sector.