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IFC INVESTS IN MOBILE CELLULAR COMPANY IN AFRICA


L. Joseph
Phone: (202) 473-7700
Fax: (202) 974-4384
E-mail: Ljoseph@ifc.org


WASHINGTON, D.C., October 4, 1999 -- The International Finance Corporation has approved an equity investment of US$10 million in Mobile Systems International Cellular Investments Holdings, B.V. (MSICIH), a cellular operating company with multiple cellular networks in Africa.
MSICIH has five cellular operations in Egypt, Hong Kong SAR, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia. Over the past year, the company acquired four new licenses through open international competitive bidding in Chad, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Sierra Leone. The company has bid for the third cellular license in South Africa and intends to bid for licenses in other countries in Africa as opportunities arise.
IFC's equity investment will help finance the construction, expansion and operation of mobile cellular telecommunications networks, at the same time spurring modernization of telecommunications in these countries, said Mr. Declan J. Duff, Director of IFC's Telecommunications, Transportation and Utilities Department. Cellular networks have the advantage of leapfrogging infrastructure bottlenecks where conventional networks are inadequate or have not been established. Mr. Duff added that MSICIH will bring expertise and capital to build a series of networks.
MSICIH is majority-owned by Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, who is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. Other shareholders include AIG (USA), Bessemer Venture Partners (USA), Communications Venture Partners (UK), GE Capital (USA), Mitsui (Japan), New Africa Advisors (USA) and WorldTel (UK).
To date, IFC has approved investments of US$2.3 billion in telecommunications projects worldwide, of which US$1 billion was for IFC's own account.
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.