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IFC Partners with Telecom Companies to Support Tsunami Relief in Sri Lanka

Washington D.C., June 08, 2005— The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed agreements with SUNTEL Ltd. and MTN Networks (Pvt) Ltd. to support their efforts in providing telecommunication, medical, and other services and supplies to relief camps following the tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004.
The agreements totaling $146,700 (Sri Lankan Rs.14.6 million), are part of a $2.5 million grant program launched by IFC to match costs incurred in post-tsunami relief work by IFC’s partner companies in Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
SUNTEL, one of two wireless fixed-line operators in Sri Lanka, has been an IFC investee company since 2001. It has established a name for itself as an efficient and professionally run company in the provision of telecom services. IFC is providing grant funds of $96,700 (Rs.9.6 million) toward the cost of emergency telecom services in relief camps and at the Centre for National Operations.
MTN Networks, which provides GSM mobile services under its brand name DIALOG GSM, is the fastest-growing telecom operator in Sri Lanka. DIALOG played a leading role in expanding access to telecom services, especially in Sri Lanka’s north and east, and has contributed significantly to developing the country’s telecommunications infrastructure.  IFC is providing matching grant funds of $50,000 (Rs.5 million) toward the costs of medical care and telecom facilities at relief camps.
“Sri Lanka’s private sector has been at the forefront of relief activities in Sri Lanka, quickly putting their resources to work in affected areas,” said Iyad Malas, IFC director for South Asia. “IFC is glad to be a partner in meeting critical needs for services in relief camps."
Mohsen Khalil, director of IFC’s Global Information and Communication Technologies department added, “Given the importance of communication in a time of crisis, we welcome SUNTEL and DIALOG’s commitment to the communities in which they operate and their swift and effective actions to relieve human suffering.”
The IFC grants follow an agreement for an amount of $172,000 (Rs.17.1 million) signed on March 7, 2005, with John Keells Holdings, one of Sri Lanka’s leading private companies, in connection with its relief efforts. This includes handling relief supplies at Colombo port and airport, provision of emergency medical infrastructure, school repairs, and water and sanitation services.
The objective of IFC’s matching grant program is to enable companies to step up their participation in the relief effort. The program is targeted toward alleviating infrastructure and distribution bottlenecks for relief operations and providing emergency health services, sanitation, and clean water.
The mission of IFC ( www.ifc.org) 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 FY04, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.