Saudi Fund for Development in talks with Pakistan to collaborate on uplift projects

 The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) is currently engaged in discussions with Pakistan to collaborate on multiple projects spanning various sectors such as energy, health, education, and infrastructure, as per a senior Pakistani official on Sunday.

Last week, the Secretary of Pakistan’s Economic Affairs Division, Kazim Niaz, and SFD Chief Executive Officer Sultan bin Abdul Rehman Al-Marshad signed two loan agreements amounting to $107 million. These agreements aim to finance hydropower projects in Azad Kashmir, supporting Pakistan’s endeavors towards energy sustainability and economic progress.

Niaz stated, “We already had a framework agreement with SFD. As the Saudi delegation concluded its visit (on Sunday), we have discussed a pipeline of numerous projects for future cooperation, in which they have shown keen interest.” He mentioned that these projects cover various sectors including energy, health, education, and infrastructure.

Details about these projects were not provided by Niaz, who mentioned that they would be shared after receiving feedback from Saudi Arabia on the list of initiatives proposed by Islamabad for investment and cooperation. He added that the Saudi side has taken these projects for examination and analysis, and once completed, both parties will proceed with signing.

The Saudi fund, known for providing development assistance and financial aid to developing countries through loans and grants, has previously deposited funds in Pakistan’s central bank to bolster foreign exchange reserves and has supported various development projects in infrastructure, education, and healthcare.

A Pakistani delegation is scheduled to meet with SFD officials in Riyadh during the annual meetings of the Islamic Development Bank from April 27-30.

Regarding the recently signed loan agreements with SFD during its visit to Pakistan, Niaz mentioned that they would finance two hydropower projects in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, specifically the 48MW Shounter Hydropower Project and the 22MW Jagran-IV Hydropower Project in the Neelam Valley District. These projects are expected to generate 70 MW of electricity, contributing to the national grid.

Highlighting SFD as one of Pakistan’s key development partners since its establishment in 1974, Niaz emphasized their assistance in energy, health, education, infrastructure, and their significant support during the 2022 floods. He expressed optimism about the future of cooperation and collaboration between Pakistan and SFD, describing it as bright and encouraging based on their engagements and discussions.

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