The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will provide US$15mn to Telefonica Celular del Paraguay (Telecel), a subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular, to help upgrade and expand the company’s cellular telecommunications network in Paraguay.

IFC’s financing will encourage further development of the country’s communications sector while supporting private participation in infrastructure projects.

“IFC is pleased to have another opportunity to develop its relationship with Millicom, one of the first telecommunications operators focusing exclusively on emerging markets. This investment demonstrates that telecommunications services can be provided effectively by the private sector, and it should serve to encourage other foreign lenders and investors to reenter the market in Paraguay,” says Mohsen Khalil, director of IFC’s global information and communication technologies department.

Atul Mehta, IFC’s director for the Latin America and Caribbean region, says: “We are very pleased to make this investment in Telecel. It reflects our dual objectives of supporting the development of Paraguay’s private sector and its infrastructure.”

Telecel is the leading telecommunications operator in Paraguay, offering nationwide mobile telephony services and internet access, as well as public telephony services in rural areas.

“Telecel is in the process of building a nationwide overlay to our existing network, in order to provide customers with improved access and services. Our company will finance these investments from our operating cashflow and this US$15mn loan from IFC,” says Ricardo Maiztegui, general manager of Telecel.

Telecel was awarded its licence to provide mobile services in 1991, and it began commercial operations the following year. The company has since been awarded additional licences to provide dial-up and broadband internet access, as well as public telephony services. The company is owned 96% by Millicom International Cellular and 4% by La Estrella Solitaria, a holding company incorporated in Paraguay with interests in construction, real estate, and telecommunications.