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SENIOR EXECUTIVE OF IFC TRAVELS TO MIDDLE EAST OCT. 17-27


Jannette Esguerra  
Phone: (202) 458-5204
Fax: (202) 974-4384
E-mail: jesguerra@ifc.org


WASHINGTON, D.C., October 13, 1999 — IFC Executive Vice President Peter Woicke will use a visit to the Middle East to reinforce relations with new leaders in several countries and support an investment program designed to cement peace in the region with economic prosperity generated by the private sector.
It will be Mr. Woicke's first visit to the Middle East since being appointed as EVP of IFC and Managing Director of the World Bank Group in January. After several stops in Egypt (Oct. 17-20), he will travel to Lebanon (Oct. 21-22), West Bank and Gaza, Israel (Oct. 23-25), and Jordan (Oct. 26-27).
The range of IFC's investments in Egypt are reflected in visits that will take Mr. Woicke from manufacturing facilities financed by IFC to an education project, where IFC is considering an investment in lower-cost private schools that will use hi-tech software and media systems as teaching tools. IFC also recently approved an investment involving an international syndication in Sidi Krir Power Project, the first independent power project in Egypt. Mr. Woicke will meet business leaders and officials of the newly named government, to explore how IFC can best direct its financing to modernize Egyptian industry and build up the financial sector.
The need to rebuild in the aftermath of the civil war in Lebanon cued IFC's focus on financial institutions, supporting banks through credit lines which, for instance, will make mortgage finance available that would give people homes and spur construction and employment; and provide funding, otherwise not available, to small and medium businesses. IFC is also examining ways to funnel financing for higher education and is working on establishing a secondary mortgage securities company to promote private home ownership and help develop the local capital markets. Mr. Woicke will hear views from government officials, as well as the business community that will help shape IFC's future investments in areas such as infrastructure, where IFC has already mobilized US$100 million for one of the two cellular phone companies; tourism, which contributed 20 percent to the national economy before the war; and social sector projects such as private hospitals.
IFC's program in the West Bank and Gaza is geared to job creation and establishing viable modern businesses that earn foreign exchange. IFC invested in the Jacir Palace Hotel in Bethlehem and motels in Jericho, an industrial estate in Gaza and is considering investments in infrastructure. IFC established the Peace Technology Fund, which first closed at $60 million, to make direct equity investments in companies in the West Bank and Gaza and to sponsor joint ventures that encourage the transfer of technology. IFC and World Bank made 145 loans worth $1.5 million to grocers, small clinics, carpenters and other very small businesses; and IFC helped to set up the first investment bank and the first housing financial institution. Discussions with the government will revolve around development of a propitious business climate that will encourage future investment and the role of the World Bank in furthering private participation in building the economy.
Mr. Woicke will also meet the Governor of the Central Bank and senior officials in Israel, to discuss regional cooperation.
In Jordan, talks with government leaders will focus on plans to introduce structural reforms and further improve the environment for doing business. IFC will continue to support the government's efforts to deepen the local financial markets and consolidate the banking sector, either by investing or advising in areas such as the development of the bond and mortgage markets. Mr. Woicke will particularly offer IFC's services and funding support in the area of infrastructure, where Jordan is intensifying its privatization.
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.
Mr. Woicke will meet with journalists in each country. For further information, please contact:
Sami Haddad Egypt (202) 579-5353

Tamara Lansky West Bank and Gaza (972-2) 236-6517