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IFC and Maroc Telecom Help Burkina Faso’s Onatel Expand and Improve Telecommunications Services


In Johannesburg:
Houtan Bassiri
Phone: +27 11 731 3179
E-mail:
hbassiri@ifc.org

In Washington, D.C.:
Alexandra Klopfer
Phone + 1 202 473 4645
E-mail: aklopfer@worldbank.org


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.

About IFC
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.