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IFC Supports Expansion of Information and Communication Technologies to Nigeria’s Universities


In Washington, D.C.:
Ludi Joseph
Tel: 202 473 7700
Fax: 202 974 4384
E-mail: ljoseph@ifc.org

In Nigeria:
Dr. Aloy Chife
Tel.: + 234 803 314 1234
Fax: + 234 1 270 8110
E-mail: achife@socketworksglobal.com


Lagos, Nigeria, February 13, 2006—The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed a loan agreement with SocketWorks Limited—the first such initiative in Nigeria’s higher education sector—to support its rollout of CollegePortal into select Nigerian universities. CollegePortal is a package of information and communication technologies that will provide students with the tools to become fully computer literate.

IFC’s loan of up to $2.5 million (about NGN350 million) will enable SocketWorks to develop software and purchase computers and other hardware for Nigeria’s universities. University students, faculty, and administrators will have access to a full suite of online management systems and study tools, including offshore libraries and other information sources. The implementation of CollegePortal has been shown to reduce the administrative burden faced by staff and students significantly. As part of its investment, IFC has an option to take an equity stake in SocketWorks.

IFC has been providing technical assistance to SocketWorks since 2003 and will continue to do so in parallel with the present loan. Besides strengthening management capacity and improving corporate governance, IFC’s technical assistance will help the company develop the capability to expand its product offerings and take its business model to other parts of the African continent.

Loans available to private sector companies in Nigeria are generally short term and not appropriate for longer-term investments. Moreover, it is difficult for Nigeria’s cash-strapped universities to fund the purchase of expensive computer equipment and software systems. The market and operational expertise of SocketWorks, combined with the longer-term loan provided by IFC, will permit Nigeria’s universities to have access to information and communication technologies that are so critical in the education sector today.

The agreement was signed in Lagos by Mr. Lars Thunell, IFC’s executive vice president, during his first official visit to Nigeria, and by Dr. Aloy Chife, president and CEO of SocketWorks.

Mr Thunell noted, “I am very pleased that the first investment agreement I am signing after joining IFC last month is to support a project in Africa’s education sector. It will help implement a plan begun in 2003 when IFC began working with SocketWorks to identify Nigeria’s information and communication technology needs in higher education and develop a sustainable plan to service those needs. This is an excellent example of how hard working and determined entrepreneurs—in partnership with IFC—can expand opportunities for Africans.”

Mr. Chife added, “SocketWorks is happy to develop our relationship with IFC. In addition to the funding, which will assist in the rollout of vitally needed information technology to Nigerian universities, we value the financial and non-financial support that IFC has provided us and which we expect will continue in the future.”

The mission of IFC (
www.ifc.org) is to promote sustainable private sector investment in emerging markets, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in developing countries, 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 FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications.