IFC invests in AXIAN Telecom bond to support digital connectivity in Africa

February 11, 2022

To scale up access to quality mobile connectivity for millions of individuals and businesses across Africa and to further support the continent's digital economy, IFC has invested in a maiden bond issuance by AXIAN Telecom.

The bond, the first issued by AXIAN Telecom, will refinance the company's existing debt and support its digital infrastructure network expansion, primarily in Tanzania and Togo.

By scaling up its digital infrastructure, AXIAN Telecom will continue to promote Africa's growing digital economy and digital finance by bringing accessible, reliable and secure digital services in markets where access to affordable, quality mobile connectivity remains challenging. IFC subscribed to 12 percent of the bond (equivalent to $50 million) as an anchor investor in a total issuance of $420 million.

''IFC's anchor investment will help us fulfill our ambition to be an end-to-end partner in Africans' digital transformation journey and to secure their affordable access to digital infrastructure and services,'' said Hassanein Hiridjee, AXIAN Telecom's Founder and Chairman of the board.

African countries, on average, spend about 1.1 percent of GDP annually on investments in digital transformation, including digital infrastructure, compared to 3.2 percent for developed countries.

''With internet access in Africa largely relying on mobile networks, providing affordable and reliable mobile connectivity is an important way to bridge the digital divide,'' said Makhtar Diop, IFC's managing director. ''IFC's investment in AXIAN Telecom's bond is consistent with the World Bank Group's efforts to establish a more competitive and reliable telecommunications sector as part of the Digital Economy Initiative for Africa (DE4A), which aims to support the African Union (AU) digital transformation strategy for Africa.''

Capital markets are critical for filling the infrastructure investment gap in emerging and developing markets. Since 2019, IFC has supported digital infrastructure and other infrastructure companies with public bond issuances totaling over US$3 billion with more than US$500 million of IFC's own funds and by mobilizing an additional US$2 billion in capital.

AXIAN Telecom represents IFC's second recent bond investment in Africa's digital economy. This investment follows IFC's participation in a bond issued by Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Africa's largest independent fiber, data center and cloud technology provider. IFC is also an active investor globally in green and sustainability-linked bonds including Continuum Green Energy's first green bond and IFC's first sustainability-linked bond investment with Sembcorp.

Surging demand for digital connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic led IFC's commitments to the telecoms, media and technology sector in emerging markets to exceed US$1 billion in the fiscal year ending June 2021. Almost three-quarters of the commitments were made in Africa.




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