The Arab Maghreb Union has launched a bank with $100m of capital to finance infrastructure projects in the region.
Sid Ahmed Ould Raiss, the governor of the Central Bank of Mauritania, said that the investment bank will finance projects in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morroco and Tunisia, the five member states of the union.
Speaking at a meeting held in Noukachott, the Mauritanian capital, on Wednesday, Raiss said: "The bank is intended to finance development projects, such as highways, promoting new technologies and also investing in energy.
"The bank is destined to finance infrastructure programmes in the energy sector."
Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, lauded the creation of the bank saying it would foster integration and spur investments in the region.
"It's the first foundation for an edifice being built," said Lagarde, who was present at the meeting.
"[It is] something everyone thought necessary, from the economic activity point of view, which can be better shared, and true prosperity as well as from the point of view of job creation."
The banks were first proposed in 1991, but the launch was delayed by tension between Morocco and Algeria over Western Sahara.
The tension hindered decision-making and the operation of the union, with no summit organised since 1994.
It is hoped the creation of the bank will create jobs and increase security in the region.