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IFC CHIEF VISITS GHANA, COTE D'IVOIRE, TANZANIA, AND KENYA FEBRUARY 2-12, 1998 —Support for Private Sector Activity—


L. Joseph
Phone: (202) 473-7700
Fax:     (202) 974-4384
E-mail: ljoseph@ifc.org


WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 27—Mr. Jannik Lindbaek, Executive Vice President of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), will lead a delegation to Ghana, Cote D'Ivoire, Tanzania, and Kenya from February 2 to 12, 1998.  The purpose of the visit is to consult with government and industry leaders on IFC's activities, tour projects, and discuss new initiatives.  In Africa, IFC is working in a wide variety of sectors, including support to financial markets, private infrastructure, extractive and manufacturing industries, tourism, agribusiness, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), micro-lending, and financing of privatized companies.

In Accra, Mr. Lindbaek will attend a "retreat" (February 3 to 5) of about 50 managers and investment officers who work for IFC's small business program in its 11 offices throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.  The purpose of the retreat is to discuss IFC's strategy for the continent, exchange ideas, and define ways that the Corporation can be more responsive to the needs of the African business community. Some of the topics will include a greater decentralization of IFC's work to Africa, streamlining the approval process, and improving cooperation with local financial institutions.  In addition to Mr. Lindbaek, IFC Vice Presidents Chris Bam and Carol Lee and Africa Director Cesare Calari will address the retreat.


IFC has expanded its activities in the region in recent years in response to a more favorable environment for private sector development.  In Ghana, since 1984, IFC has invested US$484 million in 55 projects, of which US$258 million was for its own account. In Cote d'Ivoire, since 1965, IFC has invested US$239 million in 47 projects, of which US$197 million was for its own account.  In Tanzania, since 1960, IFC has invested US$91 million in 32 projects, of which US$78 million was for its own account.   In Kenya, since 1967, IFC has invested US$263 million in 56 projects, of which US$211 million was for its own account.

In the area of small business development, IFC has provided through its small business facility, the Africa Enterprise Fund (AEF), a total of US$137.52 million in funding for 225 SMEs in 30 African countries.  Additional technical assistance to SMEs is provided through the Africa Project Development Facility, which assists African entrepreneurs in formulating project proposals and in raising local and foreign financing; the African Management Services Company, which strengthens African enterprises by providing experienced managers and training local teams; and Enterprise Support Services for Africa, which provides post-financing support and managerial and technical support.


"Extending IFC's Reach Initiative" -- a program that extends the geographic range of IFC's activities to developing countries facing challenging conditions, limited flows of foreign investment, and constraints to private sector activity -- has had good results in Africa, which has "Reach" offices in four countries.  Since 1996, the Initiative's Small Enterprise Fund, which targets small-scale investments in areas where the scope for private enterprise is limited, has approved US$7.29 million in financing for 9 African projects.


Mr. Lindbaek said, "I am delighted to be visiting Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Tanzania, and Kenya.  Sub-Saharan Africa is a top priority for IFC.  Our involvement in the region has grown steadily, fueled by the opportunities that emerge as countries take bold steps towards macroeconomic stability.  Although I see strong trends towards private sector development, I believe that the region must continue on the path of economic reform.  I am also very pleased to be attending the IFC retreat with its focus on SMEs, which are among the prime engines driving job growth and economic expansion in Africa."


Mr. Lindbaek will be accompanied by two Africa Department executives: Mr. Calari, Director, and Mr. Andre Cracco, Associate Director.  The delegation will also include Ms. Maria Thomas, Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President and Ms. Ludwina Joseph, Corporate Communications Officer.


IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral source of equity and loan financing for private sector projects in developing countries.  IFC's investments in Africa from financial year 1992-97 totaled US$1.4 billion in 347 projects.  These include financing for SMEs accounting for US$124 million in 197 projects.  In 1997, IFC introduced the Africa Business Network, a website dedicated to African private sector issues at http://www.ifc.org/abn.