WASHINGTON, D.C., September 27, 1999 — The
International Finance Corporation has long invested in Africa, but it has
recently refocused and given a new priority to its support of the private
sector in the region. IFC's new strategy focuses on building up the telecommunications,
electric power systems, and transportation networks needed to do business,
expanding the ability of African financial institutions to finance private
investment, and nurturing African-owned enterprises with financing, advice,
and start-up help. A new publication, Building the Private Sector in
Africa to Reduce Poverty and Improve People's Lives, describes the
In order to develop infrastructure, IFC has invested in, and was instrumental
in launching, the largest private equity fund ever assembled for Africa,
the $400 million AIG African Infrastructure Fund. The project sponsor and
lead co-investor is American International Group, the leading U.S.-based
international insurance organization. This was just the latest initiative
in IFC's approach to strengthening the role of the private sector in developing
The strategy also emphasizes development of financial markets and support
for financial institutions that can, in turn, support smaller businesses.
And IFC is finding many ways to encourage indigenous African entrepreneurship
through financing, technical assistance, and advisory services. In addition,
IFC will continue to finance projects in sectors where a country has a
"Africa has made substantial economic progress and now stands at an
important crossroads," IFC Executive Vice President Peter Woicke writes
in the foreword to this book, but future progress depends on the ability
"to sustain economic growth led by the private sector."
The book examines the factors that contribute to that private-sector-led
economic growth. It goes on to analyze the state of private sector development
in the region and IFC's experience there, with a focus on the decade of
the 1990s. And it presents the new IFC strategy for supporting private
investment in the region.
The book includes steps that IFC has taken to enhance its operations in
Africa, including more resources for offices in Africa and creating hubs
in Abidjan, Johannesburg, and Nairobi to serve subregions. IFC has also
established various pioneering facilities to finance smaller investments.
Cesare Calari, IFC's director for Sub-Saharan Africa, said that many African
economies are rebounding with new flows of private investment, and that
IFC is helping translate that trend into sustained economic growth that
benefits all Africans.
In the 1999 fiscal year, IFC approved 80 new investments in Africa, for
US$357 million. The projects financed amounted to $1.5 billion of new investment
in Africa. IFC's committed portfolio in Africa now exceeds $1 billion.
In Africa, IFC accounts a higher portion of the total private investment
than in other regions, making it the most important provider of finance
to the private sector among multilateral and bilateral organizations.
Building the Private Sector in Africa to Reduce Poverty and Improve People's
Lives may be ordered by calling IFC at 202-473-7711. Journalists can
obtain the book by contacting Lana Moriarty at 202-473-6005 (phone), 202-974-4384
(fax), or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.