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IFC and Zain to Increase Telephone Access, Create Jobs in Rural Madagascar

Antananarivo, November 28, 2008— IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced today that it will work with Zain Madagascar to increase telephone access in Madagascar’s rural areas, while promoting entrepreneurship and creating jobs.
The Village Phone Program links Zain Madagascar with rural entrepreneurs who sell airtime on its networks in their local communities. Zain provides the hardware to entrepreneurs, while IFC helps design and manage the program. Since beginning operations in April 2008, Village Phone Madagascar has already installed some 800 operators who provide access to telephone services to more than 800,000 rural people.
“The telecommunications sector is extremely important for the continued development of Madagascar’s economy,” said Zain Madagascar’s Managing Director Ihab El-Fouly. “Working with IFC is enabling Zain to dramatically extend telephone services to previously isolated areas in Madagascar and help bring livelihoods to people.”
The Village Phone Program builds upon IFC’s existing relationship with Zain across several countries in Africa. In 2007, IFC provided loans to Zain subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Uganda to help them expand and upgrade their mobile networks.
“Promoting efficient and affordable communication is a priority for IFC to support Madagascar’s economic development,” said IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Lars Thunell. “The Village Phone Program demonstrates our innovative partnership with Zain and how we are working together to support the role of information and communications technology in Africa’s development.”
Thunell was in Madagascar on a three-day visit to highlight IFC’s commitment to the country. His agenda included meetings with key development partners and government officials, including President Marc Ravalomanana; Prime Minister Charles Rabemananjara; Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Ivohasina Razafimahefa; Minister of Finance and Budget Haja Nirina Razafinjatovo; Minister of Energy and Mining Elysé Razaka.
IFC’s strategy in Madagascar focuses supporting the development of local financial markets; helping develop infrastructure; promoting investments in key economic sectors such as mining, agribusiness, and tourism; and improving the business environment.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit .