IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has provided a $25 million loan in Leo Burundi, helping the company expand into rural and remote areas of Burundi, where mobile phone service often is not available.
The loan is IFC’s largest financing in Burundi and its first non-financial sector loan in the country.
Leo Burundi, the largest telecom operator in Burundi, is owned by Orascom Telecom Holding;subsidiary of Vimpelcom group, a leading international telecommunications group operating in mobile networks in high growth markets in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Russia and CIS.
“IFC is one of the few financial institutions supporting companies in Burundi and is demonstrating that there is great potential for investments in the country,” said Leo Burundi CEO Raymond Laforce. “We can see that there still is a big potential for expanding and developing the telecommunications sector in Burundi and for our services to reach people in rural and remote areas of Burundi. IFC’s financing will enable us to embark on very ambitious expansion plans”
Burundi has one of the lowest mobile phone usage rates in Africa with only 19% of the population having access to mobile phones. Access to mobile phones by individuals and small businesses is an important component of spurring economic growth and improving living standards.
“Affordable mobile telecommunications have proven to be a powerful tool to help lift people out of poverty in all of Africa,” said Bernard Sheahan, IFC Director of Infrastructure & Natural Resources for Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.“With this investment in Leo Burundi, IFC continues a long history of supporting the knowledge, innovation, and improved government and business services that mobile communications can offer.”
During the last 10 years, IFC has invested over $1 billion in 42 mobile phone projects spanning 15 countries in Africa. IFC’s current investment focus in Africa’s telecommunication sector is aimed at improving the availability and reliability of affordable communications services, supporting the adoption of new communication technologies, and promoting technology-enabled invation and entrepreneurship.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit http://www.ifc.org.
About Leo Burundi
Leo is the leading telecommunications operator in Burundi providing voice services since 1993 and data services since 2007. It is currently serving over 1 million customers with the highest market share amongst 5 other mobile and fixed operators. Very recently, Leo has brought broadband connectivity via fibre-optic submarine cable thereby enabling a major increase in internet access with its 3G network at affordable prices in this landlocked country. Leo is one of the leading multi-national companies in Burundi and consequently a major contributor to the local economy in terms of taxes, direct and indirect employment.
About Orascom Telecom
Orascom Telecom is a leading international telecommunications company operating GSM networks in high growth markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, having a total population under license of approximately 515 million with an average mobile telephony penetration of approximately 47% as of June 30th, 2011. Orascom Telecom operates GSM networks in Algeria (« OTA »), Pakistan (« Mobilink »), Egypt (« Mobinil »), Bangladesh (« banglalink »), North Korea (“koryolink”) and has an indirect equity shareholding in Globalive Wireless Canada (“Wind Mobile”). In addition it has an indirect equity ownership in Telecel Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe) and through its subsidiary Telecel Globe; OTH also operates in Burundi and the Central African Republic. Orascom Telecom reached over 105 million subscribers as of June 30th, 2011.
Orascom Telecom is traded on the Egyptian Exchange under the symbol (ORTE.CA, ORAT EY), and on the London Stock Exchange its GDR is traded under the symbol (ORTEq.L, OTLD LI). For more information visit www.orascomtelecom.com.