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IFC, EDC, and Digicel Collaborate to Expand Mobile Phone Network in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, April 7, 2008— IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Export Development Canada have signed an agreement with Digicel Ltd. to help increase a nationwide GSM network in Papua New Guinea.  The project is expected to expand substantially the reach of telephone service, covering areas previously not reached by existing service providers, as well as improving service quality, stimulating competition in the sector, reducing costs to consumers, and generating significant employment and support to local small and medium enterprises working with Digicel.
IFC, EDC, and a local commercial bank have arranged a US$92 million long-term package on commercial terms, of which IFC will finance US$40 million and EDC
US$25 million.
Kevin O’Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Papua New Guinea, said, “We value our long-term partnership with IFC and EDC, and we appreciate their strong knowledge of the sector as well as their ability to mobilize funds from local and regional institutions. This relationship will greatly benefit the expansion of our mobile service in Papua New Guinea.”
Rajesh Sharma, Head of Structured Finance at EDC, added, “The project in Papua New Guinea builds on our strong relationship with Digicel in the Caribbean. This relationship has helped open up several new markets for Canadian suppliers and has introduced advanced Canadian technologies. We support Digicel in its strategy for Pacific operations, which will enable us to develop additional markets for Canadian suppliers.”
Mohsen Khalil, IFC Director for Global Information and Communication Technologies, elaborated, “The project builds on IFC's long-standing relationship with Digicel to bring better telecommunications services to Papua New Guinea.  Just eight months after Digicel launched its operations, Papua New Guinea has benefited from competition, with service becoming more affordable and reaching more than 10 percent of the population. This achievement demonstrates that private sector competition is the engine for growth in telecommunications.  IFC's involvement is part of a broader effort to develop information infrastructure in the Pacific islands.”  
Richard Ranken, IFC Director for East Asia and Pacific, added, “This project is in line with our strategy to work with strong sponsors in frontier countries and regions.  We are privileged to collaborate again with Digicel on a large private sector project in a challenging environment, reaching many poor people and improving their lives.”
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments.  IFC’s vision is that people should have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives.  In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries.  IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries.  For more information, visit .
About EDC
EDC is Canada’s export credit agency, offering innovative commercial solutions to help Canadian exporters and investors expand their international business. EDC’s knowledge and partnerships are used annually by 6,400 Canadian companies and their global customers in about 200 markets worldwide. EDC is financially self-sustaining and a leader in financial reporting and economic analysis. It has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for seven consecutive years.  For more information, visit .
About Digicel Pacific
Digicel was launched in the South Pacific in November 2006. It has become the fastest-growing mobile operator in the region, operating in Samoa and Papua New Guinea. Fiji and Vanuatu recently granted licences to Digicel, and several other countries in the Pacific have provided commitments. In November 2007, Digicel Pacific announced the acquisition of TonFon in Tonga. Known for competitive rates, unbeatable coverage, and superior customer care, Digicel has a wide variety of products (including state-of-the-art handsets) and services.  The company sponsors several national rugby teams across the South Pacific.  For more information, visit .