The United States has loaned more than $100 million to regional telecommunication firm Africell to expand access to telecommunications in Africa.
The project is expected to have a high developmental impact particularly in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, by expanding the availability and quality of affordable mobile telephone and Internet services in these countries.
It will also seek to promote better access to and higher usage of both mobile voice and broadband technologies in its markets by offering quality services at affordable rates.
The funds will be advanced to the telco through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US government’s development finance institution.
OPIC managing director for Africa Worku Gachou and Africell chief investment officer Ian Paterson signed the commitment letter in Johannesburg last week.
Africell, which was established in 2001, is now the leading operator in The Gambia and Sierra Leone and is rapidly growing operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Today, Africell’s active subscribers number stands at 12 million.
“This financing will be used in the markets where the company is already operating rather than expansion into new markets. 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,” Mr Paterson said.
“Africell‘s success in putting communities at the heart and soul of the company’s strategy is due to management’s focus on operational efficiency to create value for its customers.
“It is important to partner with investors who truly understand our business model, as well as our markets, to structure solutions that support our growth programmes,” the Africell chairman Ziad Dalloul said.