International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement to provide an eight-year loan of US$30mn to Barclays Bank of Ghana, one of Ghana’s leading banks. This loan represents the largest IFC investment in the financial sector in Ghana to date.

The IFC loan will provide Barclays Ghana with much-needed term foreign currency funding to meet the rapidly growing demand for term financing in one of the most promising economies in West Africa. The loan will help the bank meet the financing needs of its corporate clients as well as those of small and medium enterprises – a vital engine of economic growth in Ghana.

Richard Ranken, IFC’s director of the Sub-Saharan Africa department, says: “One of our main objectives in Ghana is to deepen financial intermediation and facilitate the private sector’s access to financing from local financial institutions like Barclays Ghana. The IFC loan, which will support the development of export-oriented companies and small and medium enterprises, has the potential to increase the contributions of these businesses to the Ghanaian economy.”

Jyrki Koskelo, IFC’s director for global financial markets, adds: “IFC is keen on seeing significant development in the financial markets in Sub-Saharan Africa and is engaged in several initiatives on the continent. This financing to Barclays Ghana is a demonstration of IFC’s confidence in the Ghanaian economy and the future of its financial markets.”

Barclays Ghana, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barclays Bank, has been operating in the country for the past 80 years. With 25 branches around the country, the bank provides a full range of banking services to its retail customers, small and medium enterprises, and corporate clients. As of December 2005, Barclays Ghana’s total assets and shareholders “funds stood at US$540mn and US$59mn, respectively.

Margaret Mwanakatwe, Barclays Ghana’s managing director, says: “Barclays Ghana is extremely pleased with this partnership with IFC. The financing will help the bank expeditiously meet the term foreign currency needs of its clients.”

Mwanakatwe adds: “The confidence placed in us by IFC demonstrates the strong position of Barclays in Ghana and is only a prelude to several projects our two institutions are working on, including those in the housing finance sector. We look forward to continuing our good cooperation with IFC.”