Johannesburg/Ouagadougou, May 6, 2008—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, today announced that it will support
the upgrade of fixed and mobile networks at Onatel, Burkina Faso’s telecommunications
operator. The €7.5 million investment will be part of a broader effort
to develop a competitive telecommunications market in Burkina Faso, increase
connectivity, and improve opportunities for the business sector.
Onatel began increasing private participation
in the telecommunications sector in December 2006, when the government
sold a 51 percent stake of the company to Morocco’s Itissalat Al-Maghrib
(Maroc Telecom). The government of Burkina Faso is planning to sell an
additional 20 percent stake through an initial public offering, which will
be the first by a Burkinabé company. IFC and the government are discussing
ways that IFC can support the transaction, help attract private investments
to the country, and further develop domestic and regional capital markets.
“IFC’s global expertise in telecommunications
and experience in various legal and regulatory environments will be valuable
assets as we upgrade our networks and seek to increase private sector participation
in the sector,” Mohammed Morchid, Onatel’s General Manager.
IFC is also working closely with the
Burkinabé government to improve the legal and regulatory environment and
make it easier for entrepreneurs and private businesses to operate and
contribute to economic development. In fiscal 2007, IFC invested $8.5 million
in the country. On a broader scale, IFC is increasing its investments in
Africa, particularly in the poorest countries and regions where the private
sector has played a limited role in economic development thus far.
“By facilitating cross-border investments
within Africa, IFC helps to create opportunities for private sector growth
in the region, and for the exchange of knowledge and experiences,” said
Mohsen Khalil, IFC Director for Global Information and Communication Technologies.
“Through its investment focus on Africa, Maroc Telecom has demonstrated,
as an established regional operator, its important contribution to the
economic development of the region. IFC is pleased to partner with Maroc
Telecom towards the development of the information infrastructure and towards
expanding the availability of affordable communication services to the
wide population of Burkina Faso.”
Many Moroccan companies are looking
to increase cross-border investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. They are encouraged
by better macroeconomic policies, a stronger commitment by many governments
to the private sector, and greater political stability. IFC and the Confederation
of Moroccan Industries sponsored a conference in November 2007 in Casablanca
to help local businesses identify investment opportunities in Africa.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing
private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international
financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services
to businesses and governments. IFC's vision is that people should have
the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC
committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through
syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing
countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more
information, visit www.ifc.org.