Finnish development financier Finnfund is loaning Zain Iraq US$19 million to modernise its network in Northern Iraq and boost the capacity and quality of its existing 3G network in other parts of the country.
A member of Kuwait-based Zain Group, Zain Iraq has been operating in the country since 2004. This is Finnfund’s first investment in Iraq and demonstrates the company’s strategy to support post-conflict and fragile countries. The loan is part of a debt package which is syndicated by IFC, a member of the World Bank group.
“The stability of Iraq is very important for the region. Long-term reconstruction efforts are as important as short-term assistance such as humanitarian aid and support for resilience and stabilisation”, said Anne-Mari Virolainen, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development.
“Rebuilding Iraq will require private investments in basic infrastructure and services to the tune of US$ 100 billion. Finnfund is proud to contribute to re-connecting Iraqis 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, modernise 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.”
Reliable and well-functioning mobile networks can contribute significantly to development in post-conflict and fragile areas by increasing productivity, economic activity and reducing income inequalities. In addition, mobile networks can facilitate the use of services such as money transfers and mobile banking. Currently, in Iraq only 25% of the population has access to 3G services, and just 11% of the adult population has 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% are women.