The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is the largest single investor in central and eastern Europe and ex-soviet countries as well as the largest international financial institution in the ICT sector within this territory. By providing project financing for mainly private enterprises and working with publicly owned companies to support the privatisation and restructuring of state-owned communications entities, EBRD has been a driving force in ICT infrastructure development over the last 17 years. In addition to being a significant investor in the communications sector in the region, the EBRD also provides technical assistance to implement modern and transparent telecommunications regulations and policies which foster the investment environment.
EBRD uses a range of instruments (primarily loans and equity) to assist both new ventures and investments in existing companies while mobilising significant foreign direct investment beyond its own financing. As of December 2007, the Telecoms, Informatics and Media Sector team within the EBRD had provided cumulative financing of €2.22 billion for projects throughout its 29 countries of operation. The sector portfolio consists of 104 deals ranging from €3 Million to over €200 million. Key areas of financing to date have been: fixed and mobile operators; postal modernisation; Internet Service Providers; cable and terrestrial TV; software developers and systems integrators and outdoor advertising.
In accordance with its policy and established practice, the EBRD provides technical assistance to countries that have expressed a genuine interest in undertaking a major reform of their telecommunications policy. In providing technical assistance, the Bank is guided by the following principles:
(a)Gradual liberalisation of all telecommunications services;
(b)Establishment of an independent regulator with no structural or functional links with the existing telecommunications operator;
(c)Progressive rebalancing of tariffs; and
(d)Elaboration of a set of rules designed to facilitate the emergence of competition.