The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is to purchase up to 5% of Burkina Faso's telecom operator Onatel in an effort to support an ongoing IPO. IFC, the World Bank’s private sector lender, in a statement said it would take on a stake of up to 5% by buying any unsubscribed shares. The IPO begun on 22 December 2008 and closes on 31 January 2009.
Onatel intends not to displace any private investors. Should all shares be subscribed to, according to IFC, the government will sell it a 3% stake.
Currently, Maroc Telecom has 51% shares in Onatel, which stake it acquired in 2006 when the government embarked on privatization of the network. In the IPO, Burkina Faso's first ever, the government is offering a further 20% stake
IFC is also working closely with the Burkinabé government to improve the legal and regulatory environment and make it easier for entrepreneurs and private businesses to operate and contribute to economic development, according to the statement. In fiscal 2007, IFC invested $8.5 million in the country. On a broader scale, IFC is increasing its investments in Africa, particularly in the poorest countries and regions where the private sector has played a limited role in economic development thus far, the statement adds.