The New Development Bank (NDB) on Thursday launched its Africa Regional Center in Johannesburg, with South African President Jacob Zuma presiding over the proceedings.
Zuma hailed the launch as historical and underlining the BRICS commitment to the development of the African continent and emerging markets.
BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The launch was witnessed by South African government officials, senior officials of the NDB, representatives of the diplomatic corps and other multilateral financial institutions.
"This (NDB launch) is a critical milestone not only for South Africa, but for the African continent as a whole," Zuma said. "We are thus celebrating it as a shared achievement."
"It is testament to our commitment that BRICS and the NDB should benefit not only BRICS countries, but should also benefit the whole of Africa and the developing world as a whole," said Zuma.
The NDB has disbursed the first set of loans amounting to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars. Zuma said this is a significant step forward together with other achievements like the bank's first bond issuance in the Chinese capital market, mobilizing about 450 million dollars.
"We are confident that the bank will build on these achievements and grow from strength to strength.
"We expect that the bank, through the Africa Regional Center, will contribute to accelerating infrastructure investment in energy, transport, water and other productive sectors," Zuma said. "We have great expectations for this regional office."
The president said as the NDB expands its membership, there are expectations that African countries will be among the first to take up membership at the bank.
At the second annual meeting of the NDB Board of Governors in New Delhi, India, the bank's lending was raised to 2.5 billion dollars in the 2017-2018 financial year.
NDB president Kundapur Vaman Kamath said the bank will support the government of South Africa.
"In 2018, the NDB expects to present about 20 projects. The Africa Regional Center will undertake project identification and preparations," he said.
The NDB, which has 23 projects for the current financial year, also intends to offer loans in the local currency to remove risks associated with fluctuations of the rand, Kamath said.
(Xinhua News Agency, August 18, 2017)