Press Releases

IFC Chief Peter Woicke Visits West Africa August 22-29, 2001

L. Joseph
Phone:  (202) 473-7700

Fax:  (202) 974-4384


Washington, D.C., August 16, 2001-Peter Woicke—Executive Vice President of the International Finance Corporation and Managing Director of the World Bank Group for private sector development—will travel to Nigeria, Chad, and Ghana from August 22 to 29, 2001, to look at IFC’s investment and advisory work and consult with government and industry leaders.  The trip underlines the importance and continuing commitment that IFC attaches to its work in sub-Saharan Africa.  IFC is the largest financier of private investment in Africa and has supported more projects there than in any other region of the world.

IFC’s total committed portfolio in Africa as of fiscal year 2001 was US$1.42 billion in 330 projects.  IFC has approved $6.5 billion in 935 projects in 43 sub-Saharan African countries as of the end of June 2001.

In Africa, IFC’s strategic priorities aimed at stimulating the private sector include building domestic financial markets and institutions, developing physical infrastructure through privatization and investment, promoting indigenous entrepreneurship through supporting small and medium enterprises, and investing in projects based on information and communications technology.  For details on IFC’s Africa strategy and experience, please look at “Developing the Private Sector in Africa” (  IFC is expanding its support to small and medium businesses by working with local financial intermediaries and building links between small enterprises and larger, more mature businesses.

In the past decade, IFC’s Technical Assistance Trust Funds program, financed through bilateral agreements with donor countries, has implemented 175 technical assistance assignments costing more than $16 million in Africa.  In addition, technical assistance to small businesses is provided through a broad array of programs cosponsored by IFC and donor agencies, including the Africa Project Development Facility (APDF), which assists African entrepreneurs in formulating project proposals and in raising local and foreign financing; the African Management Services Company (AMSCO), which strengthens African enterprises by providing experienced managers and training local teams; and Enterprise Support Services for Africa (ESSA), which provides postfinancing support and managerial and technical support.  APDF is active in Nigeria, Chad, and Ghana, and AMSCO and ESSA are active in Ghana.

In Nigeria, IFC’s role is focused on providing support to financial institutions, infrastructure, privatization in general, and a comprehensive program of activities with small and medium enterprises.  In 1999, with the advent of the Obasanjo government, IFC and the World Bank re-instituted a full investment and advisory program in Nigeria.  As of end June 2001, IFC’s portfolio had reached $143 million, making Nigeria IFC’s second-largest country portfolio in Africa.  Most of the new investments are in the financial sector where IFC has invested about $131 million.  As far as development of the Niger Delta is concerned, IFC is investing in a new business hotel in Port Harcourt to be managed by Novotel as well as in the Niger Delta Contractor Revolving Credit Facility, which targets small businesses engaged in oil field services to help them compete more effectively.  The facility will build up a strong base of local service contractors, thereby creating greater employment, more access to business opportunity, increased links between the oil and non-oil sectors, and broader benefits of oil production to the economy in general.  IFC is also advising the Lagos State government on the privatization of the water sector.

IFC’s involvement in Chad is mainly related to oil field development and the $3.7 billion Chad-Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project, which involves developing oil fields in southern Chad and constructing a 1,070 km pipeline through Cameroon to an export facility off the Atlantic Coast.  IFC is providing $100 million from its own account and mobilizing a further $100 million from commercial banks in financing to develop the project, which represents a pioneering effort by the World Bank Group to transform oil wealth into direct benefits for the poor.  IFC is also supporting an initiative to increase business opportunities for local firms in connection with the pipeline and is promoting potential financial sector projects, some of which have grown out of the pipeline and related small business initiative.  As part of the same initiative, loan officers of selected banks were trained to improve their capacity for lending to local micro enterprises and to small and medium businesses.
 In addition, IFC is financing a dairy in N’Djamena.

In Ghana, IFC’s portfolio now totals $62 million.  In the past, IFC played key roles in the mining sector and with small and medium businesses, and is now considering a larger program that would build on current activities, including financial sector support, privatization advisory services, finance for private infrastructure, and increased financing to small businesses via intermediaries and technical assistance.  In financial year 2001, Ghana Telecom received debt financing of $100 million—including $40 million for IFC’s own account—to expand its fixed-line network, develop a nationwide GSM (Global System for Mobile telephony) cellular network, and invest in a regional fiber optic cable.  IFC is also financing a cement plant and a printing and packaging plant serving the export sector for a total of $7.7 million.  It also helped set up—under a franchise arrangement with NIIT Limited of India—the NIIT Computer Training School in Accra to provide Ghanaian students and professionals with the information technology skills needed to compete in the domestic and global economy.  With donor support from the government of Denmark, IFC and AMSCO have trained businesses on the basic principles of corporate governance and developed a corporate governance manual for managers, directors, shareholders, financial institutions, and government authorities.

The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries as a way to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in emerging markets, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.