Education, the environment, and OPIC: Secretary Kerry acknowledges strides made in Central Asia
On October 31, Secretary John Kerry visited the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, to commemorate the opening of a new, state-of-the-art campus.
Thanks to a $6 million loan from OPIC alongside USAID support, AUCA was able to construct the new campus, allowing the school to extend current programs and serve as an institute for research and development in Central Asia.
Founded in 1993, AUCA is an international, multi-disciplinary college in the American liberal arts tradition. It offers 14 undergraduate and 4 graduate programs with several US-accredited degrees. Due to its success and progress, its need for a new, enlarged campus became apparent, and AUCA sought OPIC financing and raised private donor funding for this.
As Secretary Kerry noted during the commemoration ceremony, AUCA’s new campus is the first private construction project in Central Asia with an eco-friendly foundation. The building boasts geothermal heating and cooling, an ultramodern sewage system, irrigation systems, and the highest standard of energy efficiency in the region. With the most environmentally-advanced infrastructure technologies in the area, AUCA plans to provide technical assistance to other universities on geothermal energy use.
The OPIC financing also allows AUCA to increase its enrollment capacity by 33 percent. The commitment required for this long-term project called for OPIC’s unique capability to provide financing, in two tranches (including one for the eco-friendly elements), at tenors and on terms that are not available commercially. USAID also played an essential role in AUCA’s success by providing an endowment fund in support of operating costs, student scholarships and grants for furniture and equipment for the new building.
In his remarks last week, Secretary Kerry shed light on the importance of education for economic growth and development. There is a strong demand for workers and leaders who have skills and education relevant to the times. In order to meet these demands, particularly in developing regions like Central Asia, education initiatives must be bolstered by capable institutions such as OPIC. OPIC is proud to support the advancement of education infrastructure in the Kyrgyz Republic and looks forward to seeing the developmental impact on the entire Central Asian region.