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The FINANCIAL -- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, on January 12 announced an equity investment of $3 million in the first public share offering from Wataniya Palestine, West Bank and Gaza’s second largest mobile phone operator, to make mobile services more accessible and affordable in the West Bank and Gaza. "IFC’s investment, which represents about one percent of the equity of Wataniya Palestine, will help the company increase mobile phone coverage in West Bank and Gaza, supporting economic growth and expanding business opportunities in the region. This investment will also help strengthen the Palestinian Exchange by attracting long term institutional investors to the market," IFC reported.
Mohammad Mustafa, Wataniya Mobile Chairman said: “IFC’s investment is a vote of confidence in both the Palestinian economy and in Wataniya Mobile. No doubt, it will help the company in the future to reach out with confidence to additional sources of financing to secure further financing for critical projects including additional expansions to its network infrastructure and service offerings.”
Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC Director for the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe, said, “IFC is committed to supporting growth in the Palestinian private sector. This investment will help demonstrate that there is a viable market in the telecommunications sector and attract more long term investment.” Wataniya Palestine is a joint venture between the Palestine Investment Fund and Wataniya Telecom, which is majority-owned by Qtel, Qatar’s leading telecommunications operator. In 2009, IFC provided Wataniya Palestine with a $30 million loan to help it enter the Palestinian market. Information and communication technology (ICT), including mobile phone services, contributes to poverty reduction by creating employment, increasing productivity and creating new business opportunities. ICT also helps make governments, private sector enterprises, health and education providers and civil society organizations more effective and efficient.