South Africa in talks with Euro Investment Bank for Transnet handout

 ·16 Feb 2024

The European Investment Bank said it’s in talks to loan South Africa money to upgrade its port and freight-rail infrastructure as its first contribution to a decarbonisation pact known as the Just Energy Transition Partnership.

The loan, the size of which the EIB didn’t disclose, is part of its €1 billion (R20 billion) commitment to the JETP, it said in a response to queries on Thursday.

The agreement to help South Africa transition away from the use of coal consists of $8.8 billion (R147 billion) in climate finance pledged by the European Union via the EIB, France, Germany, the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark.

“This potential investment would aim to support South Africa’s ambitious decarbonization efforts under the JETP while boosting economic growth through more efficient and reliable freight transport,” the EIB said.

The loan talks come at a time when South African shipments of coal and iron ore, two of its biggest exports, are being constrained by an unreliable freight-rail system, and fruit destined for overseas markets is rotting in some of the world’s most inefficient ports.

EIB loans are made “at a favourable rate” and would possibly be complemented by grant finance from the European Commission, the bank said.

South Africa’s National Treasury and Transnet, its state logistics company, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The JETP, which was agreed in 2021, is seen as a prototype for similar agreements between some of the world’s richest nations and coal-dependent nations such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

South Africa, which relies on coal for more than 80% of its power, is also aiming to boost its output of renewable energy, expand its transmission grid and develop electric-vehicle and green-hydrogen industries.

In November and December, in agreements separate from the JETP, the EIB agreed to lend the state-owned Development Bank of Southern Africa €300 million (R6.1 million) so that it can finance private-sector renewable energy projects in South Africa.


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