Press Releases

IFC and the Financial Times Open Conference on Improving Physical and Regulatory Infrastructure to Lower the Cost of Doing Business in Africa

Ahmed Badawi-Malik
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NAIROBI/WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 2004 -The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and the Financial Times opened their two-day international conference at the Nairobi Intercontinental Hotel today, "Developing Business and Infrastructure in Africa: Enhancing the Role of the Private Sector" (see Michael Klein, Chief Economist and Vice President for Private Sector Development of the World Bank Group, noted, "IFC and World Bank Group recognize that the key to creating wealth, jobs, and economic growth in Africa is to make it easier to start, operate, and expand a business. That requires improving the regulatory and physical infrastructure and removing barriers to doing business."

Francisco Tourreilles, IFC Director for Infrastructure, remarked, "The World Bank Group, and especially IFC, has been at the forefront of structuring public-private partnerships in infrastructure for nearly two decades now". He added, "IFC is here to listen and discuss our experience as IFC and the World Bank Group generally believe there is real potential to transform the infrastructure landscape in Africa."

President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya formally opened the conference, followed by a welcome message from Peter Woicke, IFC Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the World Bank. The conference features speakers from the government and private sectors of Africa, including President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar; Edward Jaycox, Chief Executive Officer of the AIG African Infrastructure Fund; Phuthuma Nhleko, Group Chief Executive of MTN Group; Kenya Finance Minister Daudi Mwiraria; Strive Masiyiwa, Chief Executive of Econet Wireless; and Tony Hadley, Regional President of Lafarge.

The mission of IFC ( is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY03 was $16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.