Wataniya to benefit from IFC funding; will expand network

11 Jul 2012

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has announced that it has helped to arrange a USD125 million financing package for Wataniya Mobile Palestine. It is understood that the funding will go towards making mobile services more accessible and affordable in the West Bank and Gaza, and the financial support consists of USD60 million in financing from the IFC and a USD65 million syndicated loan from several other lenders. In the wake of the development Wataniya, which in September 2006 was declared the highest bidder for the Palestinian Territory’s second mobile licence, is reported to be planning to use the financing to expand into Gaza, where at present customers are only able to access the services of its rival, Palestine Cellular Telecommunications Company (Palcel). Bassam Hannoun, Wataniya Mobile CEO, said of the development: ‘IFC continues to customise its financing to meet our unique needs as we grow and expand our reach … IFC is helping us enter a new market, Gaza, which has nearly 40% of the Palestinian population. It is a market that needs competitiveness and is keen for a choice in mobile telecom services.’

The funding is the latest support from the IFC for Wataniya Mobile; in 2009 the financial organisation provided the cellco with a USD30 million loan to help it enter the Palestinian market, while in 2011 it invested USD3 million to support Wataniya’s successful IPO on the Palestinian Stock Exchange.

Palestinian Territory, Ooredoo Palestine