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
"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.