It’s possible to finance infrastructure projects in Iraq, despite the challenging environment.
Countries emerging from years of conflict face enormous development challenges. The need for jobs, investment, and infrastructure is urgent.
IFC arranged a $400 million, seven-year debt facility for Iraq’s largest mobile phone operator, Zain Iraq, highlighting our unique ability to meet an array of development goals in the most challenging places.
The facility supports South-South investment, provides financial support for a war-torn country, mobilizes international capital, mitigates political risk, and enhances a long-term relationship with a strategic IFC partner. It does so while expanding telecommunications services and promoting job creation in a nation that has endured decades of conflict and is regarded by investors as highly risky.
Zain Iraq is a subsidiary of Kuwait-based Zain Group, a longtime IFC partner and a leading mobile telecommunications operator with 72.5 million subscribers across the Middle East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Zain Iraq’s acquisition of Iraqna transformed it into Iraq’s leading mobile operator.
The Zain Iraq facility is IFC’s first investment in Iraqi infrastructure and our largest in Iraq to date. The facility consists of an IFC loan of $155 million, plus a $50 million B-loan by Ahli United Bank and four syndicated parallel loans totaling $195 million by other development financial institutions—$245 million in total mobilization. This is the first time several of them have invested in Iraq in this way. Zain will use the funds to improve network coverage and capacity, cover license fees, and repay loans related to the acquisition of Iraqna.
IFC’s support for the project, early and ahead of other lenders, sent a positive signal to potential investors that it is possible to finance infrastructure projects in Iraq despite the challenging environment. The project extends mobile phone coverage to poor and underserved areas of Iraq, boosts direct and indirect employment in a key non-oil sector, supports delivery of social services, and advances our strategy of supporting fragile and conflict-affected countries.
Zain Iraq has over 50 percent of Iraq’s mobile phone market and expects to add more than 4 million Iraqi mobile phone users in the next five years, to bring its Iraq customer base close to 20 million.