Frequently Asked Questions

All the answers to your questions about the AFD Group
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France, Paris, general headquarters of AFD, Goulard
What is the role of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Group? How is it funded? Who benefits from its actions? Find all the answers to the most frequently asked questions here.


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What is AFD Group ?

AFD Group contributes to the implementation of France's sustainable development and international solidarity policy. Consisting of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), which is responsible for public sector and NGO financing, research and training, its subsidiary Proparco, dedicated to private sector financing, and Expertise France, a technical cooperation agency, the Group has a mandate to fund, support and accelerate the transition to a fairer and more resilient world.

Together with our partners, we work with and for communities to build shared solutions in over 150 countries, as well as 11 French Overseas Departments and Territories. What is our objective? To reconcile economic development with preservation of the common good, in the fields of climate, biodiversity, peace-building, gender equality, education and healthcare. Our teams are involved in more than 4,200 projects in the field, thus reinforcing France and the French people's commitment to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Towards a world in common.

Find out more about the Group and its holistic approach
Find out more about development assistance

Why does AFD invest abroad rather than in France?

Climate change, conflict, pollution and epidemics do not stop at borders. Events occurring at the other end of the world can impact our lives, and it is in our interest that the world be a more stable place, that inequality be reduced and nature preserved. 

One example among others: the extreme poverty that is still endemic in the Sahel has enabled terrorist groups to prosper, which directly threaten france and its inhabitants. AFD provides a powerful response to this problem through ambitious development programmes in the education and healthcare fields in particular. These are both short and long-term actions that are indispensable to stem the poverty that provides fertile ground for all kinds of instability.
We also believe that certain resources (water, forests, biodiversity, etc.) must be managed on a global level, in line with the global commons model. These resources are shared, managed and maintained collectively by a community that considers ownership as usage, not appropriation.
Participating in the development of emerging countries means participating in the growth of an economy that benefits first and foremost the inhabitants of the countries concerned, but also indirectly employment in France with new openings for our companies, in strict compliance with local regulations and standards. More generally, the government's development policy contributes to France's global reach and influence.

Why does AFD intervene in countries with non-democratic regimes?

We believe it is essential to support the populations that face the greatest poverty, difficulties in accessing healthcare or the consequences of climate change, wherever they are in the world and whatever the political regime in place.

Where possible, we work with the existing authorities to encourage and support governance-related reforms and indeed, to foster the extension of human and social rights. 

Finally, AFD does not work exclusively with states. Over half our funding is granted to non-state actors such as companies (mainly via Proparco, our subsidiary dedicated to the private sector), NGOs or local authorities (regions, cities, etc.), which work in the interests of the population, especially where the state is weak or failing.

What has changed since the adoption of the Programming Law on inclusive development and combating global inequalities of 2021?

The Law of August 4, 2021 sets forth an ambitious new strategy for France’s development assistance policy, in which AFD Group plays a major role. The Law's article 10 calls upon the Group to prioritize financing that improves access to essential services in the so-called least developed countries (LDCs) and priority countries for French assistance, whether through grants or concessional loans. 

Furthermore, in order to meet the specific needs of Overseas France, AFD Group has adopted a “Three Oceans” strategy, through which French Overseas Departments and Territories can further strengthen ties between France and their neighboring countries. AFD Group’s operations in these regions are focused on economic and social development, as well as on addressing the common challenges of combating climate change and inequality.

With regard to global public assets, since COP21, AFD Group has played a leading role in supporting ecological transitions. In 2017, AFD was the first development agency to pledge its commitment to “fully align its operations with the Paris Agreement” and to go on to implement it on the ground. AFD is also stepping up its efforts to preserve biodiversity, having committed nearly €3.5 billion to this cause between 2015 and 2021. 

These initiatives to support the ecological transition are inextricably linked to the effort to reduce inequality. For this reason, the Group adopted a “100% Social Link” strategy in 2017.
The Programming Law also recognizes the importance of civil society players in both the North and South, and AFD Group is being encouraged to provide them with even greater support. As a result, Official Development Assistance will double by 2027.
In accordance with this law, AFD Group has adapted its organization and internal operations. The law authorized the merger between Expertise France and AFD for instance, thus providing France with a capacity for action and a unique level of consistency across its bilateral assistance mechanisms, by regrouping all the skills and instruments used in development policy under a single entity.

Financial resources

Frequently asked questions, Agence Française de Développement, financial resources
How much does AFD cost the French taxpayer?

AFD is a public institution but it does not receive operating subsidies from the State. AFD is mainly self-financed through its lending operations and even pays a few million euros in dividends to the State as its shareholder, every year.

The portion of AFD’s activity represented by grants (about 15% of the total share), from the State and other donors, such as the European Union, comes directly or indirectly from French taxpayers. AFD is entrusted with this money and is responsible for allocating it to projects that have a major social and environmental impact.

As a result of AFD’s hybrid status as both a bank and development agency, the French government is able to pursue a high-impact development policy that benefits communities, the planet and France. All this comes at a very low cost to the taxpayer.

Where does AFD's money come from?

About 85% of AFD's overall activity consists of loans granted to partners. This money is exclusively borrowed on the financial markets, on the same favourable borrowing terms as those of the French state; it does not come from the taxpayer.

Part of the interest generated by these loans goes to pay AFD's operating costs: staff wages, travel expenses, the running of our 85 field offices around the world, etc. Another part is set aside to cover the risk of default, by increasing our equity.

AFD makes a net profit, although it is modest compared to our overall turnover. In 2022, AFD's net income was €363 million, of which €73 million were returned to the State the following year, with the remainder being added to our equity. Unlike a commercial bank, our aim is not to generate financial profits from our business.

The remaining 15% of AFD's total turnover comes from the state budget, the European Union and, to a lesser degree, other donors. This money is entirely dedicated to grants, which support the poorest countries, based on a list of 19 priority countries drawn up by the French government (see p.12 of the report by the French Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development [in French]).

With the agreement of the countries concerned, we also intervene in areas that have been defined as priorities by France, including healthcare, education, access to water and sanitation, and agriculture.

The efforts undertaken have led to a significant increase in the share of AFD’s portfolio represented by grants. Between December 2017 and December 2021, the total percentage of grants managed by AFD rose to 76%.

Does the money spent on the programmes really benefit the people it is intended for?

AFD funds development or technical assistance programmes put together and implemented by partners with recognized competency in the relevant sphere of action (NGOs, states, local authorities, foundations, companies, etc.), which we subject to scrupulous checks.

Every programme funded is designed to benefit the populations that need it most, in many sectors: education, healthcare, the fight against climate change, gender equality, access to water, transport supply, sport, etc. The investments help to create local jobs. 

Throughout its monitoring of a project, AFD ensures that it is being implemented correctly and it has internal procedures enabling it to interrupt a programme or a funding scheme if there is evidence of corruption or if the works or initiatives originally planned have not been undertaken.

Our commitments

Ashegoda windfarm, Ethiopia
Does AFD finance programs that pollute the planet and/or are harmful to biodiversity?

AFD financing is granted on the condition that project leaders adopt a continuous and systematic environmental and social assessment process. 

This involves evaluating the environmental and social impact of the project’s operations and proposing appropriate measures to avoid any negative impacts or, when this is unavoidable, to reduce or offset them. In addition, we monitor these measures throughout the implementation phase of the project and evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed measures after they have been actioned (read our environmental and social risk management policy).

We also prohibit the financing of projects that run counter to our sustainable development objectives, with a proven or potentially negative impact on human rights, inequality, climate or biodiversity: exploration, production or processing projects, operations focused solely on the transport of coal, gas and oil; any operation that has a negative and irreversible impact on critical habitat; any operation involving products that damage the ozone layer, such as pesticides or herbicides (see our exclusion list).

Since 2017, an online complaint system has been in place via which any person or group of people affected by the social or environmental impact of a project financed by AFD can file a complaint.

What progress has been made with AFD Group’s commitment to become “fully-aligned with the Paris agreement”?

At the end of 2017, AFD made a commitment to become the first development agency to be “fully-aligned with the Paris Agreement”. In practical terms, this means that each program financed by AFD is consistent with low-carbon development and the COP21 commitments made by the country where it operates.

An independent think tank assessed AFD Group’s alignment with the Paris Agreement at the end of 2022 and concluded that it was on the right track, in particular because of its lending and fossil fuel exclusion policies, which rank among the best of the financial institutions evaluated.
AFD Group ensures that at least half of the projects it finances, all sectors combined, have co-benefits for the climate. Above a certain threshold, this financing must lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions or must have a positive impact in terms of climate change adaptation.

As climate and biodiversity are intrinsically linked, AFD announced at the 2021 One Planet Summit that at least 30% of its climate financing would directly benefit biodiversity by 2025 – a target that was reached in 2021 – and committed to doubling its biodiversity financing to €1 billion by 2025.

While a new Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted at COP15 in late 2022, AFD Group is already financing hundreds of biodiversity projects.

How does AFD Group promote gender equality?

The “100% Social Link” strategy set forth by AFD in 2017, ensures that gender equality is promoted systematically across all of its projects, in keeping with France’s International Strategy for Gender Equality (2018-2022). AFD Group defines itself as a feminist agency in line with the fifth Sustainable Development Goal of the UN 2030 Agenda, which aims to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.

Gender issues and the empowerment of women and girls are integrated into all our activities in order to strengthen the transformational gender approach of our projects. We had set a target requiring that 50% of our commitment volumes contribute to gender equality; this was reached in 2021, representing €4.2 billion in financing.

Internally, AFD activities are supported by 180 gender equality specialists working at headquarters and across the network.


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How are the projects funded by AFD chosen?

AFD responds to requests from its partners whilst ensuring that the projects selected benefit populations in the areas identified by the government as priorities for France’s development and solidarity policy: in particular these are the climate, the reduction of inequalities, health and education.

To be more precise, when an application for funding, whether a loan or a donation, is submitted to us, it systematically goes through several levels of validation within AFD: an opinion is issued on the sustainable development aspect; the carbon footprint is examined, and our specialist teams assess the project initiator's action plans. The aim is to evaluate the impacts, risks and any points requiring vigilance. The entire process takes several months.

Finally, the application is put to the Board of Directors (whose members include elected officials, representatives of the ministries and civil society) before being finally validated.

AFD declines to fund certain projects for ethical, regulatory, environmental and social reasons. When we make those decisions, we rely on an exclusion list and on our sustainable development policies, which reflect our commitments and France’s priorities in terms of international cooperation and solidarity. 

As part of its transparency policy, AFD is the first bilateral development bank to publish a list of the projects funded on a monthly basis.

How do you check that the objectives have been met?

Before a project is validated, the project initiator's commitments are recorded in the funding agreement signed with AFD. 

Once the project is underway, our specialized teams monitor its implementation, on the basis of reports provided by the project initiator or field missions in order to ensure that the commitments are being met. Once the project is completed, scientific evaluations are carried out  (local statistics, field surveys, and independent studies) to check that the objectives have been met. 

Close to 50% of our projects are evaluated every year. AFD is working hard to increase the number of evaluations it carries out in order to draw all the relevant conclusions, in a process of continual learning. 

Who monitors and checks AFD's actions?

As a public institution, our political and strategic framework for action is issued by the French government. It is defined by the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) whose secretariat is managed by the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of the Interior and Overseas. CICID typically meets once a year to define France’s development assistance policy.

AFD's governance is based on a set of structures which ensure the transparency of its operations and its proper management. Its Board of Directors includes six State representatives, five qualified individuals, four members of parliament and two members elected by staff. 
A number of State bodies are responsible for evaluating our operations: the General Inspectorate of Finance, the General Inspectorate of Foreign Affairs and the Cour des Comptes (State Auditing Body). AFD’s directors are also regularly interviewed by the foreign affairs committees of the National Assembly and the Senate. As a credit institution, our operations are overseen by the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR), under the aegis of the Banque de France.

AFD has also been strengthening its transparency and accountability policy for several years now, notably through an opendata portal and the publication of the amount and objectives of the financing granted, project data, and documents related to its strategies and governance.

As a result, every citizen can access information on the programs and projects supported by AFD. The progress made by AFD on transparency was recently recognized when its ranking was upgraded to “good” in the Aid Transparency Index, produced by the NGO Publish What You Fund, an international reference framework.

Read the Evaluations - Biannual Report (new version to be published in the first half of 2023)

Read the 2022 Activity and Corporate Social Responsibility Report (RARES)

Is AFD a tool of "Francafrique" - France’s "special relationship" with its former african colonies?

AFD is not involved in any way in the political process in the countries where it funds projects. We do not fund any election campaigns and we do not support or favor any candidates or any regime over another.

In addition, AFD's funding is entirely "untied", meaning that it is not conditional on the selection of French companies to implement the projects. The programs funded by AFD are implemented by companies selected through calls for tender, either national or international.

More generally, whatever the countries or continents, we constantly endeavour to act in a totally transparent way in all everything that we do. 

AFD Group plans to move its headquarters near to the Gare d'Austerlitz in Paris. How much will this project cost and what ecological impact will it have?

In order to meet the Group’s real estate needs, improve internal synergies and reduce its operating costs, on January 30, 2020, AFD’s Board of Directors approved the acquisition of 50,000 m² of office space in a 100,000 m² building complex currently being constructed in Paris by the developer Kaufman & Broad. This is the last project associated with the Paris-Rive Gauche urban development zone, started in 2000 and supported by the Paris City Council. In addition to the office space, the project involves the renovation of the nearby train station, the construction of social housing and a refueling area operated by SNCF, all under the same building permit.

This real estate project to accommodate all the employees of the Group’s headquarters at one site, as they currently work at six different locations, will have a positive impact from a budgetary, environmental and social perspective. It will not cost the State anything. Consequently, operating costs will be reduced by 20%, as the surface area used by AFD will decrease, and exacting standards will be put in place for “flexible office” working, as well as for the sharing of space between Group entities.

In terms of its environmental impact, the project is subject to the regulations of the Paris Climate Action Plan, which constitute the strictest criteria to date. The project includes the installation of the second largest photovoltaic farm in Île-de-France (Paris and the surrounding region), with 3,000 m² of roof panels, which will cover nearly 50% AFD Group's energy needs.

It will also involve renovating 12,000 m² of concrete surfaces to absorb more water, reducing rainwater discharge into wastewater networks (greening of roofs), creating nearly 20,000 m² of green spaces, increasing the amount of green spaces in the vicinity of the new building by a third (i.e. 12,000 m²) and promoting sustainable transport with the provision of 1,000 bicycle spaces for Group employees (compared to 200 at present).