Cairo, July 3, 2007 — IFC, the
private sector arm of the World Bank Group, recently announced new transactions
that take its annual investments in the Middle East and North Africa to
over the $1 billion mark for the first time. To support private sector–led
growth in the region, IFC is pursuing new investment opportunities and
expanding advisory services to improve the business-enabling environment.
With the recent announcements of a $70 million loan to the Arabian Yemen
Cement Company and a $40 million loan and a 5 percent equity stake in Omar
Effendi, Egypt’s recently privatized retail chain, IFC’s investments
in the region reached $1.2 billion in fiscal 2007.
Lars Thunell, IFC Executive Vice President and CEO, said, “The Middle
East and North Africa is a strategic region for IFC. Our investments
and advisory services create new jobs, addressing the main challenge in
a region with high unemployment. Our projects demonstrate the opportunities
that the private sector can provide. Moving forward, we will continue
to support private sector investments in the region and continue to work
with the region’s governments to help create a business environment that
attracts further private sector capital.”
IFC has increased its local presence to address gaps in the region’s markets.
IFC’s strategy in the Middle East and North Africa focuses on improving
the business environment, facilitating companies’ access to finance, and
encouraging private sector involvement in infrastructure. IFC also supports
the cross-border emergence of regional champions as they invest in less
developed countries across the region. Priorities include reducing
the constraints the private sector faces in conflict-affected and frontier
countries. Through the Lebanon Reconstruction Program, for example,
some 3000 local companies will get new loans for working capital, expansion,
and other needs; the program fulfills a pledge IFC made at a Lebanon donor
meeting in January 2007. In frontier countries—high-risk or low
income economies—IFC has helped establish numerous microfinance institutions,
for example Pakistan’s Tameer Bank, which has over 30,000 clients.
“IFC is showing that improvements in the region’s postconflict countries
and other difficult markets can have a significant development impact.
This can be done commercially and prudently, in collaboration with
like-minded partners,” said Michael Essex, IFC Director for the Middle
East and North Africa. “The region’s future growth and its capacity
to create meaningful jobs for young people depend on a sustained commitment
to improving the business climate and opening sectors to private sector
investment,” he added.
The Corporation’s fiscal year ended on June 30.
IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes open and
competitive markets in developing countries. IFC supports sustainable
private sector companies and other partners in generating productive jobs
and delivering basic services, so that people have opportunities to escape
poverty and improve their lives. Through FY06, IFC Financial Products has
committed more than $56 billion in funding for private sector investments
and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies
in 140 developing countries. IFC Advisory Services and donor partners have
provided more than $1 billion in program support to build small enterprises,
to accelerate private participation in infrastructure, to improve the business
enabling environment, to increase access to finance, and to strengthen
environmental and social sustainability. For more information, please visit