Nepal’s government and the US foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) have shaken hands on a new $500m compact agreement to advance Nepal’s electricity system and stimulate the region’s clean energy trade, a state department spokesperson confirmed.
On top of the “thousands of jobs” this will create, the US International Development Finance Corporation will funnel an additional $160m towards women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises, the spokesperson noted.
US undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland met Nepal’s senior leadership, including prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, on January 30 during a tour of four countries in the region.
US assistance so far has focused on supporting reconstruction in Nepal after the 2015’s devastating earthquake, though this month Ms Nuland also promised £2.9m in the wake of the January 15 airline crash.
The US government has committed $1.3bn to Nepal over the past five years, the US government website says; US investors are the country’s second-most active after India, according to fDi Markets data.
Wolfspeed launches $3bn chip plant in Germany
US chipmaker Wolfspeed has unveiled plans to build a multi-billion dollar chips manufacturing facility in Saarland, south-western Germany, its first foray into Europe.
The facility will produce next-generation silicon carbide devices to meet a growing demand for chip in the automotive and energy industries, the company said in a statement on February 1.
Wolfspeed will invest a total of $3bn in the Saarland plant, CEO Gregg Lowe told Reuters, coming almost a year after US semiconductor giant Intel announced a €17bn plant in Magdeburg, near Berlin.
However, the project’s final outcome will hinge on accessing state aid from the EU, the company said, in a nod to the the bloc’s attempts to loosen state aid rules and combat the US’s Inflation Reduction Act. Mr Lowe told German newspaper Handelsblatt that he expects to receive 20% of the investment amount in subsidies.
IFC helps Azerbaijan’s free zone in diversification push
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is partnering with Azerbaijan’s Alat Free Economic Zone (AFEZ) to help companies develop net-zero investment projects that focus on climate resilience.
The IFC signed a memorandum of understanding with AFEZ authorities, it said in a statement on February 1, to create a framework for early-stage project development support.
Nestled near the Baku International Sea Trade Port and transport corridors, the AFEZ has been the focal point of government efforts to grow the country’s manufacturing industry.
“Azerbaijan’s economic growth over the past decades has largely been driven by its oil and gas sector,” said Rana Karadsheh, the IFC’s regional director. “Now, major changes in the region’s geopolitics and energy systems as well as long-term strategic economic reform plans by the government are prompting the country to diversify its economy.”
Since Azerbaijan became a member state of IFC in 1995, the Washington DC-headquartered financial institution, which committed $32.8bn around the world in 2022, has invested around $500m in the country.