IFC Supports Expansion of Information and Communication Technologies to Africa’s Universities and Governments
Lagos, Nigeria/Washington, D.C., May 24, 2007—IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, will support expansion of information and communication technologies to African universities and governments with a loan to SocketWorks Limited, a software and outsourcing company in Nigeria that provides packaged ICT solutions.
IFC’s $4 million loan (about 525 million naira) will help finance the provision of education and e-government ICT products to 17 polytechnic postgraduate universities in the country. It will also help the company expand into Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. This deal follows a 2006 IFC loan of $2.5 million (about 350 million naira) to help the company roll out new software to several Nigerian universities. IFC will convert a part of SocketWorks’ existing debt to equity, gaining a stake in the company of about 12 percent and a seat on the board.
In addition to providing Internet access, SocketWorks has developed software to help universities automate many of their administrative processes. The company is also implementing e-government contracts to automate and improve the efficiency of various government services, such as immigration and pensions.
IFC has provided advisory services to SocketWorks since 2003. Besides strengthening management capacity and improving corporate governance, IFC continues to provide advice to help the company widen its product offerings and expand its geographic presence.
Aloy Chife, CEO of SocketWorks, said, “Our aim is to help African universities become knowledge-based societies in which the currency of exchange is information. It is important for students in Africa to have the same level of access to libraries and research facilities as students in the United States.”
“SocketWorks has transformed from a one-man shop to an employer of over 300 people,” said Guy Ellena, IFC Director of Health and Education. “Its products have a direct and positive impact on the lives of many African students as well as the participating universities.”
“It is difficult for Africa’s cash-strapped universities and governments to purchase expensive computer equipment and software systems. SocketWorks’ fee-based services are making an enormous difference in countries that have weak or no ICT systems,” said Thierry Tanoh, IFC Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral provider of financing for private enterprise in developing countries. IFC finances private sector investments, mobilizes capital in international financial markets, facilitates trade, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to businesses and governments. From its founding in 1956 through FY06, IFC has committed more than $5 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. With the support of funding from donors, it has also provided more than $1 billion in technical assistance and advisory services. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
About SocketWorks Limited
SocketWorks was founded in 2002 by Dr. Aloy Chife, a former director and business chief information officer for Apple Computers, Inc. In the education market, the company’s proprietary software (trademarked as CollegePortal) helps universities automate processes that are currently done manually, including student admissions and registration, course selection, and management of courses, examinations, and facilities. The company also provides Internet access that would not otherwise be available. CollegePortal has been endorsed by the Nigerian Universities Commission as the most suitable management software for the country’s universities.
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