Abuja, January 30, 2007—IFC's Executive
Vice President, Lars Thunell, has emphasized that creating opportunities
for private businesses and entrepreneurs in a wide range of sectors is
a high priority for IFC as it strives to expand its development impact
in the country. Speaking during his second visit to Nigeria, Mr. Thunell
revealed plans to expand engagement with the country's private sector,
especially smaller businesses, through local currency financing, support
of the financial sector, and financing of manufacturing, agribusiness,
and infrastructure businesses.
The two-day visit highlighted IFC's commitment to and well-established
partnership with Nigeria. Mr. Thunell met with government officials, development
partners, representatives from the private sector, and several of IFC's
"IFC remains optimistic about the reform process, growth, and private
sector development in Nigeria. We continue to look for new opportunities
and sectors in which we can participate," said Mr. Thunell. “IFC's
investments will remain focused on sectors that demonstrate sustainable
Mr. Thunell's remarks came after IFC announced its first local currency
financing and support for Nigeria's health care sector through a loan of
390 million Nigerian naira ($3 million) to Hygeia Nigeria Limited. The
loan will support the upgrade of three Hygeia hospitals, expand the country's
health coverage, and help deliver high-quality care at affordable cost.
The investment in Hygeia is part of IFC's strategy to expand into previously
untapped sectors. It follows recent approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria
for IFC to offer local currency financing in naira. This will benefit
Nigerian companies in their own currency and enable IFC to diversify into
newer sectors and companies more easily.
Mr. Thunell highlighted IFC's strong track record in providing new and
innovative products and services in Nigeria’s financial sector, including
trade finance, credit facilities for small and medium enterprises, and
partial credit guarantees. Last year, IFC provided its first financial
sector loan to help a local bank increase its support to women entrepreneurs.
Infrastructure is also a high priority for IFC in Nigeria. The Corporation
recently completed an advisory assignment to help bring private management
to the international airport in Abuja. IFC is also actively looking to
structure and finance power projects. "With sufficient government
commitment to reform, IFC can be a unique partner in piloting public-private
partnerships or scaling up successful private investments in infrastructure,
a key bottleneck and a major reason for the high cost of doing business
in Nigeria," said Mr. Thunell.
One of IFC's fastest-growing client countries, Nigeria is the Corporation’s
ninth-largest portfolio and its largest exposure in Africa. In FY06,
IFC committed $266 million in 10 projects in Nigeria, bringing the committed
portfolio for its own account to $544 million, a jump of almost 30 percent
from $419 million from a year earlier.
As of June 30, 2006, IFC had committed financing to 62 projects in the
amount of $985 million. Investments include $872 million for IFC's own
account and $113 million for the account of banks participating in loan
The Corporation's strategic priorities for Nigeria include: developing
infrastructure, through investments and advisory support in privatization;
supporting the financial and industrial sectors; empowering micro, small,
and medium enterprises, mainly by improving the business climate and increasing
their access to finance from local institutions; and diversifying the economy
from reliance on the oil sector.
The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World
Bank Group, is the largest multilateral provider of financing for private
enterprise in developing countries. IFC provides financial products for
private sector investments, mobilizes capital in international financial
markets, facilitates trade, helps clients improve social and environmental
sustainability, and provides advisory services to businesses and governments.
From its founding in 1956 through FY06, IFC has committed more than $56
billion of its own funds for private sector investments in the developing
world and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531
companies in 140 developing countries. With the support of funding from
donors, it has also provided more than $1 billion in advisory services.
For more information, visit www.ifc.org