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L. Joseph
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WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 30The International Finance Corporation (IFC) today signed an agreement to make an equity investment of US$300,000 in Ecobank Burkina Faso (EBF), the first fully private bank in Burkina Faso.
EBF provides a broad array of commercial banking services, including trade finance, and offers specialized products, such as fund transfers throughout West Africa. It is the sixth bank established in as many West African countries by Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), the region's only indigenous banking group. ETI is responsible for managing EBF as well as training about 30 local employees, primarily through temporary secondment of experienced staff from ETI's affiliates in Benin, C"te d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. "A strong private financial sector is the basis for economic growth in West Africa," said Mr. Cesare Calari, Director of IFC's Sub-Saharan Africa Department. "As a credible financial intermediary with privileged access to other financial centers in West Africa, EBF will help to improve economic efficiency by increasing the mobilization of domestic savings and facilitating the regional integration of Burkinabe entrepreneurs." "Through the introduction of modern banking products to Burkina Faso, EBF is raising the standards for competition in the country's banking sector and is creating a more client-based environment," added Mr. Arnold Ekpe, ETI's Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Ekpe was present at IFC's Washington DC headquarters for the signing ceremony. Representing IFC were Mr. Calari; Mr. Bahadurali Jetha, Manager, Capital Markets, Africa; Mr. Roy Karaoglan, Banking Specialist, Central Capital Markets; Ms. Jennifer Cockburn, Principal Counsel, Legal Department; and Mr. Papa Ndiaye, Investment Officer, Africa.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral source of equity and loan financing for private sector projects in developing countries.