Washington, D.C. October 5, 2004
— IFC has awarded its first annual Client Leadership Award to Celtel International B.V., a pan-African provider of cellular telephone services. The Client Leadership Award aims to recognize a highly successful corporate client that, in line with IFC’s mission, has made a significant contribution to sustainable development.
“We want to use this award to put a spotlight on a company in the emerging markets that fully endorses the values that we support and that goes beyond basic compliance to demonstrate true excellence in management commitment and corporate governance, environmental practices, or socioeconomic development,” said Peter Woicke, executive vice president of IFC. “In our book, the winner of the IFC Client Leadership Award should be a company that sets the gold standard for its peers anywhere in the world, a company that is a role model for others, regardless of sector, region, or country.
“This year’s winner, the very first winner, more than meets that test. It is a mobile telephone company that we have worked with for more than 10 years. And I’m happy to say that it not only operates in Africa – where it now has 4 million customers – but that it was founded by the African entrepreneur Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim. And it is growing by roughly 50 percent each year,” he said.
Celtel provides reliable and affordable cellular services to facilitate communication and business within Africa and with the rest of the world. The company has invested more than $600 million in mobile phone operating companies in 13 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
“We are absolutely delighted to receive this award. IFC has been a great partner in helping us build a sustainable business, delivering affordable telecommunications services to Africa. We hope to continue this valuable relationship with IFC as we continue to grow,” said Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim.
Celtel acquired a 60 percent stake in the Kenyan cellular company Kencell in May of this year, and the company has now over 4 million subscribers. In 2003 Celtel generated revenues of $446 million and a net income of $74 million. IFC’s relationship with Celtel began with a 1994 investment in Celtel Uganda, one of the group’s first operating companies. IFC has since invested in the holding company and in three other Celtel operating subsidiaries, most recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. These investments have helped modernize networks and increase mobile phone penetration rates. They have also encouraged competition, which has led to lower tariffs and increased local private participation in the telecommunications sector.
Celtel has achieved its business goals while committing to strong corporate governance and the betterment of local communities. Operating in some of the world’s most difficult markets, Celtel prides itself on its transparent dealings and on promoting the highest standards of ethics and integrity. Celtel has helped improve health and education by refurbishing schools and health centers, providing scholarships, supporting programs for athletes and people with handicaps, and sponsoring the Africa Education Journalism Award.
The company has embraced HIV/AIDS as a business and community issue and has worked with
its HIV policy for employees and their families. Celtel has also started a community phone initiative, installed solar panels for recharging of phone handsets, and helped protect endangered species.
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 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.