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
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,
Sami Haddad Egypt (202) 579-5353
Tamara Lansky West Bank and Gaza (972-2) 236-6517