To improve access to quality broadband internet and data hosting services for homes and businesses in Africa, IFC today announced it is expanding its relationship with West Indian Ocean Cable Company Holding Ltd (WIOCC Group), a leading digital connectivity and infrastructure provider in Africa, with a $30 million equity investment. The new investment will support WIOCC Group’s continued rollout of terrestrial fiber-optic networks, investment in new subsea cables, and the launch of world-class, open-access core and edge data center infrastructure across the continent.
Digital infrastructure is the backbone of Africa’s internet economy. Ongoing investment in fiber optic networks and data centers will allow increased access to more affordable and higher-speed internet across the African continent, according to eConomy Africa 2020, a report by IFC and Google. This expanded access could yield significant economic gains: a 10 percent increase in mobile broadband penetration in Africa would yield a 2.5 percent increase in GDP per capita, notes a study by the International Telecommunication Union.
“At IFC, we recognize that there is a critical need for reliable digital infrastructure, which is fundamental to improving the quality of people’s lives and driving business growth,” said Mohamed Gouled, IFC Vice President of Industries, during a signing ceremony with WIOCC Group today in London. “In the past fiscal year, ending in June 2022, IFC invested $1.3 billion in digital infrastructure, with over half of those investments taking place in Africa’s telecommunications, media, and technology sector. Our partnership with WIOCC Group underscores IFC’s commitment to closing the digital divide in Africa.”
IFC’s equity investment builds on its previous financing to WIOCC Group, in the form of a $20 million loan issued in 2020 via IFC’s fast-track COVID-19 financing facility, a facility set up to help sustain economies and preserve jobs during the pandemic crisis.
“IFC is a true strategic partner that has been there for us since the start. IFC’s role as one of the founding lenders in 2007 was critical in enabling WIOCC Group to grow and thrive. This new investment supports our goal of establishing an integrated, open-access, core-to-edge cloud ecosystem throughout the African continent, underpinned by truly scalable, carrier-neutral, open access, shared infrastructure that delivers high-quality and affordable digital connectivity,” said Chris Wood, WIOCC Group Chief Executive Officer. “By decentralizing the cloud and enabling content delivery to the point of use, we are establishing the infrastructure required to expedite successful deployment and adoption of 5G, the Internet of Things and other key developments that will deliver economic growth throughout the 2020s.”
IFC’s digital infrastructure strategy in Africa is aimed at enabling reliable, and affordable connectivity. This includes investing in the growth of independent tower operators, data centers and broadband, as well as supporting mobile operators, with an emphasis on supporting expanded connectivity in fragile and conflict situations (FCS) and low-Income International Development Association countries (LIC-IDA).
In the past fiscal year (July 1, 2021–June 2022), 34 percent of IFC’s digital infrastructure investments were in FCS and IDA countries.
Over the last decade, IFC committed and mobilized more than $7 billion in digital infrastructure and services, with more than $2.5 billion between July 2020 and June 2022. In addition to providing financing, IFC supports investees to improve corporate governance and align environmental and social practices with IFC’s performance standards.
About WIOCC Group
WIOCC Group is a leading digital connectivity provider in Africa. It offers connectivity services through its extensive open-access, carrier-neutral digital infrastructure to cloud operators, content providers, broadband and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) across Africa, which in turn provide voice, data, applications, content and fiber access services to their end users and subscribers. The company is a strategic investor in hyperscale terrestrial networks, and in multiple subsea cables including 2Africa, Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), Equiano and the West Africa Cable System (WACS). Through WIOCC Group company Open Access Data Centres, it is establishing a rapidly growing data center footprint in Africa, currently comprising over 30 facilities including hosting cable landing points for both 2Africa and Equiano. For more information, visit https://wiocc.net/ and https://www.openaccessdc.net/.
IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2022, IFC committed a record $32.8 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of global compounding crises. For more information, visit www.ifc.org, www.ifc.org/infrastructure, and www.ifc.org/tmt.