NOUAKCHOTT, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The five nations of the Arab Maghreb Union have created a investment bank with capital of $100 million to finance infrastructure projects in the region, Mauritania's central bank governor said on Wednesday.
The investment bank will launch operations by the end of the first quarter 2013, and will partner with the private sector to finance projects in the five nations: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
"Today it was decided to make this creation effective and to provide Maghreb investment bank with a capital of $100 million, with an equal participations from each of the five member states," Sid'Ahmed Ould Raiss told journalists after the meeting of the union in the Mauritanian capital.
"The bank is intended to finance development projects, such as highways, promoting new technologies and also investing in energy," Raiss said.
The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, who attended the meeting of the union, lauded the creation of the bank saying it would foster integration and spur investments in the region.
Mooted since 1991, the launch of the bank has been delayed by political tensions within the union and by a long-running dispute between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara.
The union aims to create an economic and future political union among the five north African nations, but no summit has been organised since 1994 due to the tensions that have hampered decision-making and the operation of the union. (Reporting by Laurent Prieur.; Writing by Bate Felix; editing by Christopher Wilson)