Finnfund invests $19 mln in Zain Iraq to rebuild Iraqi network
Finnish state investment fund, Finnfund announced on Tuesday a $19 million loan to Iraq’s leading mobile network provider Atheer Telecom Iraq, known by its brand name Zain Iraq.
Zain Iraq, a member of Kuwait-based Zain Group, has been operating in Iraq since 2004. The financing allows Zain Iraq to modernize its network in Northern Iraq as well as enhancement to the capacity and quality of its existing 3G network in other parts of the country.
This is Finnfund’s first investment in Iraq and demonstrates the company’s strategy to support post-conflict and fragile countries. The loan is part of a debt package which is syndicated by IFC, a member of the World Bank group.
“Finland is committed to supporting Iraq. Stability of Iraq is very important for the region and to all of us. Long-term reconstruction efforts are as important as the short-term assistance such as humanitarian aid and support for resilience and stabilization. Finnfund’s investment in rebuilding Iraqi mobile network is a fine example of Iraq’s reconstruction,” said Anne-Mari Virolainen, Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development.
“Rebuilding Iraq will require private investments in basic infrastructure and services to the tune of $100 billion. Finnfund is proud to contribute to re-connecting Iraqis to each other and the world through mobile networks. Research shows that access to mobile services boosts economic growth and reduces inequalities,” said Finnfund CEO Jaakko Kangasniemi.
“This financing from IFC and partners will help us strengthen our footprint, modernize infrastructure and provide a better quality of service to our customers,” said Ali Al-Zahid, the CEO of Zain Iraq. “It will also enhance access to higher quality broadband, a key enabler of broad economic activity, for both consumers and businesses.”
Development of a reliable and well-functioning mobile network can contribute significantly to development particularly in post-conflict and fragile areas by increasing productivity, economic activity and even reducing income inequalities. In addition, mobile network can facilitate the use of mobile services such as money transfers and mobile banking. Currently, in Iraq only 25 percent of the population is using 3G network, and 11 percent of adult population has an access to financial services.
Zain Iraq is one of the leading operators in the country and has over 14.6 million customers. Currently, the company employs over 2000 people in Iraq, of which 27 percent are women.