OPIC insurance will help build hotel, wireless network in Haiti

Overseas Private Investment Corporation press release, 4 December 2002

$43 million in coverage for two projects

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Political risk insurance from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will enable two U.S. companies to help build a four-star hotel in Haiti—the largest construction project ever undertaken in the country—and to develop a nationwide wireless communications network for the island, OPIC President and CEO Dr. Peter Watson announced today.

OPIC will provide $25 million in insurance to Harding Enterprises, Inc. of Louisville, KY for the development of a new business hotel near Haiti International Airport in Port-au-Prince. Managed by Hilton International Company, the hotel will offer up to 288 room suites and eight extended stay apartment units with meeting facilities, a business center, restaurants, a gym and retail outlets. It will be Haiti’s only internationally branded four-star business hotel.

The project is expected to generate 370 permanent local jobs and more than $28 million in local procurement, as well as significant foreign exchange from tourism and business travelers. Hilton will provide health care and training programs for all hotel employees.

In the second project, OPIC will provide $18 million in insurance to the Haitian affiliate of Western Wireless International Corporation (WWI) of Bellevue, WA, for the continued expansion and operation of its nationwide wireless-based communications network, providing cellular telephone, domestic and international long distance services. The affiliate, Communication Cellulaire d—Haiti (COMCEL), was awarded a license for the project in 1998 and launched services in 1999.

The cellular telephone system is operated with COMCEL’s own equipment and connected to the public switched telephone network according to an agreement with the company that operates the ground-based telephone network, Telecommunications d’Haiti.

These two projects will have important developmental benefits for Haiti, not least by enabling the country to modernize its telecommunications and tourism infrastructure, which in turn should serve as a basis for further economic growth, said Dr. Watson. OPIC is pleased to work with two U.S. companies that are contributing to Haiti’s economic development.

OPIC was established as an agency of the U.S. government in 1971. It helps U.S. businesses invest overseas, fosters economic development in new and emerging markets, complements the private sector in managing risks associated with foreign direct investment, and supports U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers.

OPIC’s political risk insurance and financing help U.S. businesses of all sizes invest in more than 150 emerging markets and developing nations worldwide. Over the agency’s 30-year history, OPIC has supported $142 billion worth of investments that have helped developing countries to generate over $11 billion in host-government revenues and create over 673,000 host-country jobs. OPIC projects have also generated $64 billion in U.S. exports and create more than 253,000 American jobs.

For further information, contact:
Lawrence Spinelli (202) 336-8690
Timothy Harwood (202) 336-8744