Interview: Abdulwahab Al Bader
In which sectors is KFAED focusing on increasing investment and interest? In what ways will this benefit the region, given recent events?
ABDULWAHAB AL BADER: One of our current priorities is to increase KFAED’s involvement in the social sector, such as health and education. Building the social sectors paves the way for advancements in other developmental areas. For example, in Yemen we are funding and equipping 13 colleges in 12 provinces that specialise in technical education. We have also signed an agreement to build the institutional, technical and administrative capabilities of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, which will improve the level of functional performance and relations with international government bodies. This development is necessary to help stabilise the political situation in the country. Of course, we can also look at where we can be of assistance in the sectors of agriculture, transport and communications, energy, industry, and water and sewage. Political events in the Arab world have caused some further issues; many of the areas affected were those already receiving assistance, and we will therefore continue to assist less privileged areas.
How have the fund’s training programmes supported and encouraged Kuwaiti youth to attain skills in order to be internationally competitive?
AL BADER: Inside Kuwait, we look at issues that are within our scope and capabilities, such as opportunities to train engineers based on our international experience in large infrastructure projects.
We work closely with both embassies and international companies, and have set up a training centre to train Kuwaiti youth locally and then send them abroad in order to gain work experience in the private sector. It is important for our youth to have that international experience so that when they come back to Kuwait they are able to offer something unique and valuable to the national labour force.
How would you rate the success of several recent donor conferences hosted in Kuwait, such as the two Syrian donor conferences?
AL BADER: These conferences have proved to be very successful both in terms of offering developmental loans, as well as emphasising Kuwait’s keenness to work with developing nations.
The Syrian donors conference has also been a chance for the world to see the true extent of Kuwait’s humanitarian nature. The Africa-Arab Summit portrayed to the world the cooperation between Kuwait (as well as other Arab nations) and African countries, which is aimed at promoting development, trade and investment in various sectors for the mutual benefit of both regions.
The two donor conferences held in Kuwait for Syria brought in nearly $4bn in total from 70 countries and 24 international organisations, breaking records for the highest amounts ever pledged in history for a single humanitarian crisis. Kuwait donated $800m in total pledges, and has already fully handed this money over to UN agencies. Kuwait has shown the international community that it has the ability to bring together leaders from around the world to mobilise and support countries in need.
Meanwhile, the Africa-Arab Summit was a huge success in terms of both development loans and investment funds. Kuwait pledged $1bn in concessional loans to be provided through KFAED over a period of five years. In addition, Kuwait, along with the World Bank and other international institutions, supports investments and investment guarantees worth another $1bn focused on infrastructure projects over the next few years.
Regionally, KFAED is involved in administering a Kuwaiti government grant that is aimed at providing support for development efforts in four countries, Jordan, Morocco, Oman and Bahrain, and will continue to seek out areas in which it can provide fundamental assistance to help stabilise the region.
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