To fund the expansion of its communication infrastructure, Africell, an African telecommunication firm signed a $100 million loan agreement with Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the United States government’s development finance institution.
The deal, which forms part of the OPIC’s $1 billion investment in African infrastructure and technology launched earlier in 2018, was signed on the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg.
At the signing of the deal, Ian Paterson, Chief Investment Officer of Africell, which has about 12 million customers in Sierra Leone, Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, said financing would be used in the markets where the company is already operating rather than expansion into new markets.
According to Patterson, “we will be looking to invest the proceeds to expand our networks, develop new products and services, really using the platform of customers we have today and trying to layer on more value added services to them”.
In underdeveloped countries, mobile network access, especially an increase in data penetration, has provided services like mobile money and microlending to help boost financial inclusion among the unbanked.
OPIC’s managing director for Africa, Worku Gachou said “the developmental impacts that having data connectivity and data access does for communities is transformational”.