IFC, Jordan partner to expand high-speed internet network through public-private partnership

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Jordan’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship (MoDEE), signed an agreement today to attract private sector participation to expand and operate high-speed internet network to help boost connectivity, improve digital services, and create jobs.

IFC will work together with the ministry to launch a competitive and transparent tender for a public-private partnership (PPP) to operate, commercialize, finance, and expand Jordan’s national broadband network (NBN), a fiber-optic open access data network currently under development. As the lead transaction adviser, IFC will help structure the PPP to attract potential international and regional private investment in this key project.

The project marks the first PPP in Jordan’s growing information and communication technology (ICT) sector. Once completed, the NBN is expected to boost broadband penetration and affordability for households, and businesses, provide sufficient infrastructure for 5G operators and provide high-speed internet connectivity to about 5,000 public sites, including schools, healthcare centers, and government offices.

“The NBN already includes more than 5,500 km of fiber-optic networks across the country and should reach 7,000 km by 2021,” said Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship Mothanna Gharaibeh. “With the PPP, its large reach and spare capacity will help make high-speed internet more accessible and affordable, which is key to supporting Jordan’s digital transformation and will help the private operators to prepare more to 5G.”

Widespread and affordable high-speed internet is critical for Jordan, which has emerged as a digital hub for the Middle East— even more so now that people are spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high-speed internet connectivity will be critical to help manage the increased demand for distance learning and e-services.

“Today’s agreement will support the government’s plans to improve Jordan’s ICT infrastructure, mobilize foreign direct investment, and enhance competition in the ICT sector,” said Mazen Alsad, hub leader for PPP transaction advisory services in Levant region,  “We also hope that better and more affordable broadband internet services will have a positive impact on productivity, job creation, and social inclusion.”

This project is IFC’s first engagement following the signing in April of the Project Pipeline Development Facility (PPDF), a strategic partnership between IFC and the government to support the work of the Central PPP Unit to attract more private sector participation in Jordan.

IFC and the Government of Jordan have worked together on several key PPP projects including Tafila Wind farm and Seven Sisters solar PV projects. Jordan has raised about $10 billion in private capital through PPPs in the electricity, transport, and water sectors since the 1990s. Over the past 15 years, IFC has advised governments on more than 135 PPP projects globally, mobilizing $29 billion in private investment.