Regional development cooperation


Finland is engaged in regional development cooperation carried out in several countries. The aim is to support the resolution of cross-border problems and to strengthen regional integration. Regional cooperation complements other forms of support.

Finland provides funding to and carries out regional cooperation in many areas in which it has special expertise. These include innovation activities, peace-building, rights of persons with disabilities, promotion of equality, energy, and sustainable use of natural resources. The activities may be approached in different ways in different geographical regions.

Funding is often channelled via international organisations, regional economic and cooperation organisations, and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs).

Finland’s support to Sub-Saharan Africa is varied

Finland plays a role in the handling of cross-border themes through participating in regional development cooperation. In East Africa, Finland supports the promotion of regional trade, regional integration, and mediation. In Southern Africa, Finland focuses on the advancement of science, technology and innovations as well as on climate change mitigation.

Renewable energy and jobs

Finland supports the EEP Programme in Southern and East Africa (EEP S&EA). The programme has provided access to renewable energy for over 800,000 households in Southern and Eastern Africa, and over 6,500 jobs have been created. 

The programme is implemented in thirteen African countries and its aim is to enhance energy security. It also seeks to improve energy efficiency, helping to mitigate climate change.

The programme funds various projects relating to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Funding is provided mainly for projects carried out by private companies but civil society organisations’ projects have been supported, too. The projects to which funding is given are selected through an open call for proposals. In the selection of projects for funding, special attention is paid to the quality of projects and to the opportunity of transferring the lessons learnt in the course of the project to other energy sector projects in the region. 

Finland is the lead donor of the EEP S&EA. The UK and Austria are other major providers of funding. Phase II of the programme was be completed at the end of 2017 and Phase II starts in 2018.

More information about projects funded under the programme, including about the achievements that have been attained, can be read in English here.

Studies and reports dealing with the EEP Programme can be accessed here.


Regional projects under way in 2017, which Finland funds by over EUR million: 

  • Energy and Environment Partnership Programme in Southern and East Africa (EEP S&EA) in 13 countries.  The EEP Programme has its own programme organisation. Finland’s support for Phase II of the EEP Programme in 2013–2017 was EUR 12.5 million. 
  • Development of the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio). The SANBio Network comprises 12 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.  Finland’s support for Phase II of the Finnish-Southern Africa Partnership Programme to strengthen NEPAD/SANBio (BioFISA) in 2015–2018 is EUR 6 million.
  • The Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS) promotes economic growth and poverty reduction. The programme provides information about local markets for Team Finland actors. Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Tanzania. Finland's funding will be EUR 8.7 million for Phase II in the years from 2017 to 2021.
  • Building Trade Capacity through Customs Modernization in the East and Southern Africa Region supports the participation of countries in the region in international trade. 24 participating countries. EUR 3 million. Implemented by the World Customs Organization (WCO) 2016–2018.
  • Supporting economic integration and promoting enhanced trade through funding the TradeMark East Africa (TMEA). The project is implemented by Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), which is a non-profit company,  Finland's support for the project in 2017–2020 totals EUR 9.8 million.
  • Finland supports the strengthening of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The organisation’s aim is to promote peace and development in the region. Finland's support for the project in 2016-2018 totals EUR 1.5 million. 
  • Support for the regional integration of East Africa through, for instance, stabilisation of the Customs Union and infrastructure development. The project is implemented by the East African Community (EAC) Partnership Fund. Finland's funding in 2017–2018 totals EUR 1 million.

In Central Asia, Finland supports the poorest countries

In Central Asia, Finland conducts development cooperation mainly in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The cooperation aims at promoting corporate social responsibility and the creation of decent jobs, food security, adaptation to climate change, sustainable use of natural resources, and the improvement of access to and the quality of legal services especially for the most vulnerable population groups.

Fishing industry grew tenfold in Kyrgyzstan 

Finland has supported fish production in Kyrgyzstan from 2009 to 2017. During this period of time, fish production grew more than tenfold, reaching the amount of over two thousand tons of fish a year. 

In Kyrgyzstan, fish farms, fish hatcheries and an aqua-feed unit were built. This also contributed to the improvement of water resources. Furthermore, poor farmers in rural areas, who are members of fish farming associations, gained better income. 

The natural conditions in Kyrgyzstan are well-suited for fish production, which started there as early as in the 1930s. However, production collapsed after the country gained independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 

The project focused on the development of sustainable fishing industry and fish farming and it was implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In 2009–2017, Finland supported the project by EUR 3.2 million. 

Projects supported by Finland in 2017:

  • Aid for Trade (AfT) project in Central Asia. EUR 9 million. Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2014–2018.
  • Finland's water programme in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, EUR 7.8 million. Implemented by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) in 2014–2018.
  • Promoting decent work in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. EUR 4 million. Implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2014–2018.
  • Towards sustainable fishing industry in Kyrgyzstan. EUR 1.5 million for Phase II. Implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2014–2017.
  • Strengthening management of natural resources in Kyrgyzstan. EUR 1.6 million. Implemented by the Geological Survey of Finland in 2014–2018.
  • Strengthening management of natural resources in Tajikistan EUR 1.6 million. Implemented by the Geological Survey of Finland in 2014–2018.
  • Widening Access to Justice for Legal Empowerment/Rule of law. EUR 2 million. Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2014–2018.
  • Strengthening Rule of Law and Human Rights to Empower People in Tajikistan. EUR 2 million. Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2014–2018.
  • Strengthening expertise in meteorology in Kyrgyzstan. EUR 550,000. Implemented by the Finnish Meteorological Institute in 2014–2017.
  • Strengthening expertise in meteorology in Tajikistan. EUR 550,000. Implemented by the Finnish Meteorological Institute 2014–2017.

Promoting use of renewable energy in the Mekong Region

Finland is also supporting a regional Energy and Environment Partnership Program in the Mekong Region (EEP Mekong). The programme aims to enhance the use of renewable energy and cleaner technologies. The goals include improving energy efficiency, increasing availability of energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and fighting climate change. 

The countries of the Mekong delta area, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, participate in the regional EEP cooperation.  The programme favours private and public sector partnerships. Practical cooperation is used to encourage the use of renewable energy and to reach energy efficiency. By the end of 2017, a total of 37 projects, ranging from small CSO projects to large industrial projects, have been funded. The budget for the EEP Mekong for the years from 2009 to 2018 is EUR 17.9 million. 

Read more about EEP Mekong in English here.



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