By Massoud Derhally
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has agreed to lend up to US$12.5 million for the first phase of the development of Cybercity, a world-class integrated industrial park in Irbid, Jordan's second largest city.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has agreed to lend up to US$12.5 million for the first phase of the development of Cybercity, a world-class integrated industrial park in Irbid, Jordan's second largest city.The project will have a far-reaching developmental impact, creating up to 20,000 skilled and semi-skilled new jobs as well as stimulating the local economy.The $55.9 million project, promoted by the Industry and Information Technology Development Company (IITPD), has been granted the status of "Qualified Industrial Zone" (QIZ), which provides companies located in the park quota-free and duty-free access to the U.S. market. In addition, IITPD has been given a "Special Export Free Zone" status, which provides a 12-year tax holiday and other incentives for tenant companies. IITPD is owned by Jordan Industrial and Technology Park Investment Company, a joint venture between Boscan Middle East Investment Ltd. and Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST). With an area of 4 square kilometers, Cybercity will be the largest operating QIZ in Jordan, and will benefit from the economies of scale for all services and infrastructure development cost.Mr. Sami Haddad, Director of IFC's Middle East and North Africa Department, noted the positive impact of the industrial estate on the local economy. "We expect the IITPD industrial zone to boost the local economy by creating new jobs, attracting foreign investment, and promoting technology and skills transfer. It will also stimulate a host of complementary small and medium-sized enterprises that will service tenant companies and their employees," Mr. Haddad said.The investment in IITPD fits in with IFC's Jordan strategy, which includes the promotion of export-oriented and foreign-exchange generating investments as well as support for infrastructure development to encourage private foreign investment.The proposed project will adhere to the stringent environmental and social standards of the World Bank Group. The project will include the development of the estate's infrastructure (power, water, sewerage), the industrial estate buildings to be rented or sold, an administrative area, and residential quarters for workers. The project will initially target light manufacturing industries.IFC's mission is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding in 1956, IFC has committed more than $31 billion of its own funds and arranged $20 billion in syndications for 2,636 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's committed portfolio at the end of FY01 was $14.3 billion.