Fragile and Conflict-Affected Areas: Generating conditions for sustainable growth
Broadband Internet is a revolutionary technology—capable of empowering individuals, unlocking business opportunities, and boosting economies. In war-torn Afghanistan, however, it’s a technology beyond the reach of virtually the entire population.
IFC is working to change that by helping the country’s largest mobile-phone operator extend high-speed broadband services to 80 percent of the population in key cities. The $65 million in long-term financing we provided this year to the company, Roshan, will help it acquire a 3G license and strengthen its broadband network.
That will also help Roshan expand the array of innovative services it offers to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans. One of them is M-Paisa, a mobile-banking service that gives people without bank accounts a quick, safe, and secure way to send and receive money—through their phones. Another is Roshan’s Telemedicine project, which helps bring better healthcare services to isolated areas of the country.
Conflict and instability are a leading cause of poverty across the world. Recognizing that most of the world’s poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected areas in coming decades, we are intensifying our focus on creating opportunity in these areas.
In FY13, we invested about $580 million in fragile and conflict-affected areas. Our advisory expenditures in these areas totaled approximately $40 million, or 18 percent of our advisory program.
Our goal is to create jobs, remove constraints to sustainable business growth, and help governments rebuild infrastructure. To do so, we aim to expand the availability of power and credit. We are also helping strengthen the business environment for local enterprises while enabling them to reach new markets.
Our work in fragile and conflict-affected countries often begins with advisory work to lay the foundation for investment. Working with the World Bank and our donor partners, we supported the adoption of over 60 investment-climate reforms in 22 conflict-affected states between 2010 and 2012. More than 40 of these reforms were in Africa.
In Burundi, for example, we helped the country implement reforms that doubled the number of businesses registered — to nearly 1,350 in 2012 from 674 in 2010. As the country’s business climate has improved, foreign investment has grown.
Trade finance can also make a critical difference for conflict-affected states, which tend to be locked out of international trade. Since FY10, IFC has supported trade in 24 of these countries, enabling more than $510 million in trade amid challenging conditions.