Sunday, May 2, 2010

Vietnam's Viettel Invests in Haiti's Telecoms Market

Vietnam's largest mobile network operator, Viettel has signed a deal to upgrade Haiti's fixed line network in the country's largest foreign direct investment after the earthquake. Under a public-private partnership structured by World Bank's IFC, Viettel will initially invest US$59 million, and an additional US$40 million over four years, to upgrade services offered by fixed line operator Télécommunications d'Haiti (Teleco), creating a new company in which Viettel will hold a 60 percent stake and Banque de la République d'Haiti (BRH), Teleco and their affiliates will control the remaining 40 percent.

The IFC served as the advisor to the Haitian government in structuring the international bidding process for the partnership since June 2007.

Lars Thunell, IFC Executive Vice President and CEO, noted: ""The agreement reflects the extraordinary commitment of the Government of Haiti and Viettel to ensuring a safer and more sustainable future for the Haitian people. Economic growth is easier to achieve when people have the basic tools they need to communicate and connect with the world."

Viettel's investment comes at a critical time. Even prior to the devastating earthquake on January 12, Haiti's fixed-line penetration was only 1.8 percent - the lowest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mobile density was emerging at around 35 percent while Internet penetration remained below 1 percent. The earthquake caused significant damage to existing telecom operators' networks, including those of Teleco and other local providers.

"Enhancing telecommunications infrastructure at this time is an essential component of Haiti's reconstruction efforts," said Charles Castel, Governor of BRH. "We welcome Viettel's commitment which shows confidence in Haiti and sends a signal to other potential private investors who want to support the country's recovery and development."

IFC's infrastructure advisory services in the Teleco project received donor support from DevCo, a multidonor facility affiliated with the Private Infrastructure Development Group. DevCo is funded by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Agency, and the Austrian Development Agency. Additional support for IFC's advisory work was provided by the United States Treasury Department.

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