IFC pumps R372m into Africa’s digital infrastructure
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) allocates R372 million to promote improved digital connectivity and access to digital in Africa, through an equity investment in tech investment management firm Convergence Partners.
The development institution says the investment will be made through the Digital Infrastructure Fund, which will support critical digital infrastructure companies and projects, including broadband networks, fibre cable systems, mobile towers, digital service provider platforms and data centres.
The World Bank-owned company says this is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the digital divide in Africa.
Citing International Telecommunication Union statistics, the IFC says Africa experiences a large urban and rural connectivity divide, with 28% of urban households having access to the Internet compared to only 6% in rural areas.
The IFC’s investment on the continent comes on the back of the announcement by Convergence Partners that it has so far raised R1.7 billon out of the R3.6 billion it needs to execute its digital infrastructure projects on the continent.
“Increased broadband connectivity supports economic growth, job creation and quality of life,” says Makhtar Diop, IFC managing director.
“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.”
Andile Ngcaba, chairman of Convergence Partners, says: "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 hyperscale data centres, edge, AI, 5G and IOT. Connectivity is at the foundation of 4IR [the fourth industrial revolution]. Our new Digital Infrastructure Fund is the platform for building Digital Africa for future generations.”