The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has made a $25 million equity investment in convergence partners’ digital infrastructure fund.
This, it said, was to strengthen broadband infrastructure and improve online access to digital services for individuals and businesses in more than 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria.
The fund is being managed by Convergence Partners Africa, an investment management firm focused on the technology, media and telecom sectors in Africa.
IFC’s equity investment of $25 million in convergence partners’ digital infrastructure fund will promote improved digital connectivity and access to digital services by investing in independent operators and service providers in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to IFC, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and the demand for digital infrastructure which are helping connect businesses with customers and suppliers, creating new channels to access health and education services, and enabling entrepreneurs. However, it has also exposed the digital divide in Africa.
Investments made through the digital infrastructure fund will support critical digital infrastructure companies and projects including broadband networks, fibre cable systems, mobile towers, digital service provider platforms and data centers, adding new connectivity and data center capacity in many countries in Africa where such infrastructure is currently limited.
IFC’s managing director, Makhtar Diop, noted that “increased broadband connectivity supports economic growth, job creation and quality of life. Together, we can help connect more homes and businesses in Africa by supporting funds such as the convergence partners digital infrastructure fund to bridge the $100 billion digital infrastructure financing gap to reach universal connectivity by 2030.”
On his part, chairman of convergence partners, Andile Ngcaba, said: “We are very pleased to extend our relationship further with IFC, who were also investors in our last fund and co-investors with us in underlying portfolio companies. We share a joint ambition to invest in those businesses on the African continent that are contributing meaningfully towards addressing the digital inclusion gap that exists.
“Africa is ready for high throughput pervasive fibre networks, independent hyper scale data centers, edge, AI, 5G and IoT. Connectivity is at the foundation of 4IR. Our new digital infrastructure fund is the platform for building digital Africa for future generations.”
Internet access in Africa relies largely on mobile networks. Mobile broadband penetration stands at only about 34 per cent and fixed broadband at less than five per cent across most of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.