WASHINGTON, April 20, 2012 – An agreement to foster knowledge and best practice on housing finance in the Arab world was signed today in a Memorandum of Understanding between the World Bank and the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF). The Arab Housing Finance Initiative (AHFI) aims to enhance cooperation on this important challenge for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The agreement will facilitate the establishment and dissemination of a centralized source of knowledge and best practices on housing finance in the Arab World.
“The demand for decent, secure and affordable housing is growing in MENA because of strong demographic trends and large existing housing shortages,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President for the MENA region of the World Bank. “Supporting the housing demand is essential for growth and job creation, especially in the private sector.”
The main objective of AHFI is to expand access to sustainable housing finance solutions and improve the affordability of housing in the AMF member countries. This will be achieved by raising the standards of risk management, improving underwriting, expanding access to long-term funding, introducing legal and regulatory best practices and developing innovative solutions and targeting smarter subsidies.
“Recent developments in Arab countries highlight the urgent need to achieve a more equitable and balanced economic growth. In this context, extending access to housing finance has become one of the top priorities on the economic and social agenda of the region” said Dr. Jassim AI-Mannai, Director General and Chairman of the Board of the AMF.
The signing of the MOU follows a successful regional conference which was held in Abu Dhabi, UAE on April 4-5, 2012. Discussions during the event focused on identifying the areas where technical assistance is most needed to strengthen and develop housing finance systems. Under the auspices of AHFI, a regional workshop will be held on an annual basis to monitor progress, disseminate results and identify new requests and needs for assistance.