Antananarivo, November 28, 2008—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, announced today that it will work with
Zain Madagascar to increase telephone access in Madagascar’s rural areas,
while promoting entrepreneurship and creating jobs.
The Village Phone Program links Zain
Madagascar with rural entrepreneurs who sell airtime on its networks in
their local communities. Zain provides the hardware to entrepreneurs, while
IFC helps design and manage the program. Since beginning operations in
April 2008, Village Phone Madagascar has already installed some 800 operators
who provide access to telephone services to more than 800,000 rural people.
“The telecommunications sector is extremely
important for the continued development of Madagascar’s economy,” said
Zain Madagascar’s Managing Director Ihab El-Fouly. “Working with IFC
is enabling Zain to dramatically extend telephone services to previously
isolated areas in Madagascar and help bring livelihoods to people.”
The Village Phone Program builds upon
IFC’s existing relationship with Zain across several countries in Africa.
In 2007, IFC provided loans to Zain subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Uganda to help them expand
and upgrade their mobile networks.
“Promoting efficient and affordable
communication is a priority for IFC to support Madagascar’s economic development,”
said IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Lars Thunell. “The Village Phone
Program demonstrates our innovative partnership with Zain and how we are
working together to support the role of information and communications
technology in Africa’s development.”
Thunell was in Madagascar on a three-day
visit to highlight IFC’s commitment to the country. His agenda included
meetings with key development partners and government officials, including
President Marc Ravalomanana; Prime Minister Charles Rabemananjara; Minister
of Economy, Trade and Industry Ivohasina Razafimahefa; Minister of Finance
and Budget Haja Nirina Razafinjatovo; Minister of Energy and Mining Elysť
IFC’s strategy in Madagascar focuses
supporting the development of local financial markets; helping develop
infrastructure; promoting investments in key economic sectors such as mining,
agribusiness, and tourism; and improving the business environment.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives.
We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting
private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory
and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments
totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous
year. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.