Kuwait to grant Africa $1 bln in development loans -emir

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Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah smiles ahead of the opening ceremony of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at Bayan Palace on the outskirts of Kuwait City January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait will give $1 billion in soft loans to African countries over the next five years, the ruler of the Gulf Arab state said on Tuesday.

The funds will be granted through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah told the opening session of a joint Arab-African summit in Kuwait city.

"I have instructed the officials in the fund to provide loans with easy terms to the African countries worth $1 billion over the next five years, let alone the investments of a number of Kuwait companies in several sectors," he said.

The loans would come on top of investments by Kuwaiti companies in a number of sectors, he said.

Africa has two special attractions for the arid desert countries of the Gulf: it is a source of food and arable land, and it is launching an infrastructure building boom that recalls the Gulf's own construction spree of the past decade.