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IFC, Movirtu, Airtel Madagascar Announces Innovative Cloud Phone to Expand Access to Mobile Network Services in Madagascar

Antananarivo, Madagascar, October, 10- 2011 – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in partnership with Movirtu and Airtel Madagascar,is expanding access to communications services in rural Madagascar with technology that allows individuals to share mobile telephone handsets while maintaining private phone numbers and accounts.
Movirtu’s Cloud Phone technology allows individuals to log into any handset to access their account for a small fee. The system will allow thousands of people in Madagascar who cannot afford to purchase a handset to make and receive calls more securely, and access text messages, voicemail, and mobile banking.
Heiko Schlittke, Managing Director of Airtel Madagascar, said, “We are very excited about this opportunity to expand our customer base in rural areas while providing access to other services such as mobile money. Our partnership with IFC and Movirtu allows us to bring the benefits of our improved network to additional customers in rural areas while providing additional income local entrepreneurs.”
Special Cloud Phone handsets on the Airtel Madagascar mobile network will be provided by Village Phone Operators, who are part of IFC's Village Phone Program. Village Phone links large telecom operators with entrepreneurs who sell airtime on the companies' networks to people in their local communities, expanding access to telephone services, helping local entrepreneurs build a viable business, and expanding the reach of participating telecoms companies.
Nigel Waller, Chief Executive Officer of Movirtu, said, "At Movirtu, we pride ourselves on developing solutions based on real user needs. Cloud Phone was one of those solutions. Together with IFC’s Village Phone Program we aim to improve lives of many thousands of rural poor.”
The full launch of the Cloud Phone service, under the brand name “Antso Majika”, gives Village Phone Operators access to new revenue streams from Airtel mobile money payments and remittances. The pilot project indicated an expected increase in revenue of almost 25 percent for the Village Phone microenterprises in the first year.
Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC's Regional Director of Eastern and Southern Africa, said, “Extending mobile phone services into rural areas drives economic development and fosters entrepreneurship. The Village Phone program is an excellent example of how IFC and its partners are increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs, especially women. Cloud Phone services will help thousands access financial services and enter the formal economy.”  
The Village Phone program has helped provide credit to nearly 6,000 women and trained close to 10,000 to establish phone service businesses in Madagascar, Malawi, and Nigeria, increasing the economic participation of women in these countries.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit
About Airtel Madagascar
Airtel has Madagascar's largest mobile phone coverage and is the only operator to cover all 22 regions of the island. Airtel’s track record of innovation continues with the introduction of services such as Blackberry Prepaid service, Airtel Money, and many others.
The growth plan of Airtel in Madagascar is directly linked to its desire to be an innovative company that works to achieve a positive difference in people's lives by facilitating communication and supporting communities. Airtel is committed to consistently provide products and enhanced services, thus opening a new world of opportunities.
About Movirtu
Movirtu is a leading provider of Mobile Identity Management (MIM) solutions to wireless telecommunication service providers. Its award winning Cloud Phone™ software enables mobile operators to offer service to the 1 billion people who earn less than $2 a day, living in rural poor communities in Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. Movirtu’s solutions bring mobile banking and personalized information services to those without a handset, SIM card or bank account. Movirtu is a private company, headquartered in London, UK with offices in South Africa and Delhi.
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