IFC investment to spur Africa's ICT development

ICT_Kingsway_SchoolThe International Finance Corporation (IFC) has invested US$35 million in an equity fund to boost the development of information and communications technologies (ICT) in Africa

The Convergence Partners Communications Infrastructure Fund seeks to address ICT infrastructure bottlenecks in Africa, which impede the growth of business, companies' lack of access to risk capital and related expertise from investors that can help business development.

IFC Southern Africa senior country manager, Saleem Karimjee, said, "Access to communications helps improve economic competitiveness, facilitates efficient government services, increases the productivity of private businesses, and enhances living standards. This will further spur Africa's development."

The fund will be managed by Convergence Partners Management Ltd, a project development and investment advisory firm.

According to Convergence, it will aim to invest in new open-access networks and related services, and will capitalise on the potential for communication technology platforms to deliver critical services such as banking, healthcare, education and government programmes.

The investment will be focused on developing infrastructure that provides quality, affordable communications services, especially broadband, across the continent.

Convergence Partners chairman Andile Ngcaba said, "There is an exciting opportunity to accelerate the development of Africa through increased investment in critical infrastructure, specifically ICTs.

"We are proud to be working together with the IFC in our new fund to deploy critical capital and expertise into this sector to the benefit of the continent."

The partners hope to raise more capital for the project from local and international sources, and expect the total investment for the fund to reach $500 million. The final equity ownership split of the fund will be settled later this year once the fundraising has concluded.

Convergence has a principal focus on Africa and has already invested in the Seacom undersea cable, FibreCo long-distance fibre optic cable, and the New Dawn satellite.

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