VIETNAM’S largest mobile provider Viettel has inked an agreement to invest US$99 million in Haiti’s telecommunications sector, the company said in a statement.
The deal between the firm and the Haitian government and central bank is believed to be the largest single instance of foreign direct investment in the Caribbean nation following its devastating January 11 earthquake, according to a press release.
“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,” Haiti’s central bank governor Charles Castel said, according to the statement, released Friday.
The investment capital will target improving the level of telecommunications infrastructure in Haiti.
Fixed-line penetration stood at 1.8 percent prior to the January earthquake, placing it last among Caribbean and Latin American nations.
Mobile-phone density was 35 percent, while Internet penetration was below 1 percent.
“Enhancing telecommunications infrastructure at this time is an essential component of Haiti’s reconstruction efforts,” Castel said.
Viettel, a subsidiary of the Vietnamese military, will invest an initial $59 million and a further $40 million over the next four years, receiving a 60 percent stake in a new fixed-line firm to be owned jointly with Telecommunications d’Haiti SA, and the Haitian government.
The deal was facilitated by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank. The organisation has served as adviser to the Haitian government in structuring international bids for domestic partnerships since 2007.
“Economic growth is easier to achieve when people have the basic tools they need to communicate and connect with the world,” IFC CEO Lars Thunell said.
Viettel operates under the Metfone brand in the Cambodian market, and has grown to become the second-largest domestic mobile operator in terms of market share following its February 2009 launch in the Kingdom.