Johannesburg, February 6, 2006—Lars
Thunell, Executive Vice President of the International Finance Corporation,
the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, will visit Nigeria, February
The visit underscores the importance and continuing commitment that IFC
attaches to its partnership with Nigeria. Mr. Thunell’s program will include
meetings with President Olusegun Obasanjo and government officials, as
well as consultations with local private sector representatives, IFC clients,
donors, and representatives of civil society. Mr. Thunell will be accompanied
by Mr. Richard Ranken, IFC Director for Africa.
These meetings will give Mr. Thunell an opportunity to discuss economic
and social developmental priorities for the country and to explore ways
to promote more private sector development.
"We congratulate Nigeria on its credit rating, which we believe reflects
the vigor with which President Obasanjo and his team are pursuing their
economic reform agenda," said Mr. Thunell.
IFC’s strategic priorities for Nigeria include assisting in the development
of infrastructure; supporting the financial and industrial sectors; and
empowering micro, small, and medium enterprises, principally by improving
the business climate and increasing access to finance through local institutions.
Nigeria received its first sovereign credit rating on January 30, 2006.
This rating, from Fitch, is BB- with a stable outlook. It was based on
the country’s commitment to economic reforms, including measures to improve
governance, tackle corruption, accelerate privatization, and rationalize
the banking system. It also reflects an agreement in October 2005 with
the 19-member Paris Club of creditor nations whereby $18 billion in debt
is written off. These are all developments that had previously been
recognized by the World Bank Group, including IFC. The rating puts
Nigeria on a comparable standing with Brazil, the Philippines, Serbia,
Turkey, and Ukraine.
During his trip, Mr. Thunell will visit a number of IFC’s clients in Nigeria,
including Obajana Cement Plc, which is building a plant capable of producing
4.4 million tonnes a year; MTN Nigeria, the country’s leading mobile phone
operator; and the Lagos Festac Novotel hotel, which is currently being
built by UPDC Hotels Limited. Mr. Thunell will also visit the Lagos
Business School’s Enterprise Development Centre, which provides training
and support to small and medium enterprises and has received support from
Mr. Thunell also intends to sign an agreement for a new IFC investment
in SocketWorks Limited, an information technology company that provides
software and IT services to Nigerian universities. IFC is planning
to invest $2.5 million in a $6 million project to roll out the company’s
University Portal product to a number of local institutions.
The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment
in developing and transition 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 FY05, IFC has committed more than $49
billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319
companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio
as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held
for participants in loan syndications.
In FY05, IFC committed 32 projects in 13 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa
region for a total amount of $445 million. IFC’s total committed portfolio
for the region as of June 30, 2005, was about $2 billion.
Since its first investment in Nigeria in 1964, IFC has committed
financing in 72 projects amounting to $900 million. Investments include
$787 million for IFC’s own account and $113 million for the account of
banks participating in loan syndications. As of June 2005, Nigeria’s portfolio
was $434 million. Having grown from $143 million in 2001, Nigeria is now
the ninth-largest IFC country exposure.
For more information, visit www.ifc.org.