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International Finance Corporation Chief Visits Cameroon November 22-25, 2003


In Douala:
Cheick Oumar Seydi        

Phone: (237) 342 80 33        

Fax: (237) 342 80 14        

Email:
oseydi@ifc.org        

In Washington, DC:

Ludi Joseph

Phone : (202) 473-7700        

Fax :  (202) 974 4384

E-mail:
ljoseph@ifc.org


Douala, Cameroon, November 21, 2003 — Peter Woicke, executive vice president of the International Finance Corporation, and managing director of the World Bank Group for Private Sector Development, will visit Cameroon from November 22 to 25, 2003. IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. The visit underlines the importance and continuing commitment that IFC attaches to its work in Cameroon.

During his visit, Mr. Woicke will share IFC’s new Africa strategy with clients, government, industry leaders and entrepreneurs and discuss ways of enhancing IFC’s services and contributions. He will also meet with government officials to review Cameroon’s private sector development priorities and discuss critical issues and challenges that the country faces, including the power crisis.


Mr.Woicke, who will be visiting Cameroon for the first time, said, “I am pleased to be in Cameroon to experience the country first hand. I look forward to meeting members of the government and IFC clients and partners and to sharing our strategy on how we intend to support private sector development in Cameroon through both our investments and our advisory work.”


Mr. Woicke’s itinerary will include a call on President Biya and meetings with cabinet members, including the prime minister and the minister for economic affairs. He will also meet IFC clients, potential clients and members of the donor community and participate in roundtable discussions with business associations.


IFC’s strategic priorities in Cameroon include promoting private investment in infrastructure services, including utilities and telecommunications, to enhance the quality of services to businesses and the general public and improve the country’s business climate. Other priorities include increasing technical, managerial, and financial support to micro, small and medium enterprises, improving dialogue between the public and the private sector, and providing financial and technical assistance to microfinance activities and small businesses.


IFC also works in Cameroon, and throughout Africa, through specialized facilities such as the Africa Project Development Facility, APDF.  APDF opened an office in Douala in October 2002. The office is helping a business association to set up an SME Development program. APDF’s strategy focuses on building the capacity of local intermediaries (consultants, business associations, and financial institutions) to provide business development services and financing to SMEs.


IFC also works through AMSCO (African Management Services Company), which helps strengthen African enterprises by providing experienced managers and training local management teams.


One of IFC’s most significant projects, and the single largest private sector investment to date in Sub-Saharan Africa, is the Chad-Cameroon Petroleum and Pipeline Project. IFC has committed a US$100 million investment in the project, which involves the development of oil fields in southern Chad and the construction of a 1,070 km pipeline through Cameroon to a floating storage and off-loading facility on the Atlantic coast. The project is expected to generate substantial transit fees and other revenues for Cameroon. IFC also supports an initiative that focuses on increasing local contractor involvement. The objective of this initiative is to strengthen the SME sector by providing assistance to local companies that wish to provide goods and services during the implementation and operation of the project.


In the telecommunications sector, IFC provided a euro 11.7 million credit enhancement facility for a FCFA 29 billion (about euro 44.2 million equivalent) local currency facility and direct financing of Euro 3 million to Orange-Cameroon (formerly Société Camerounaise de Mobiles). Representing the first credit enhancement of a local currency loan for a major infrastructure project in Africa, the loan was structured to maximize the use of local currency financing, thus encouraging local and regional banks to participate in long-term project financing as well as increasing the amount of local currency loans and extending their maturity.  


On the SME front, IFC has funded several projects pertaining to education, agribusiness, and pharmaceutical distribution. These include the Horizon Bilingual Educational Complex in Douala, Complexe Agricole de Mvong-Besi, and UC-Pharm, to name a few.


IFC is also working jointly with other international financial institutions on developing a funding plan for new generation capacity, to be brought on line by AES Sonel, the Cameroonian power utility. This project aims to help alleviate the acute power shortages faced by the country.  


The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY03 was $16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

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