WIOCC Group secures $30M to support Africa’s digital infrastructure expansion

WIOCC Group has secured a $30 million equity investment from IFC to support Africa’s digital infrastructure expansion

WIOCC Group secures $30M to support Africa’s digital infrastructure expansion
L-R: Morgan Landy, IFC Global Director for Infrastructure; Matifadza Chikaura, IFC Associate Investment Officer, Infrastructure; Chris Wood, WIOCC Group CEO; Mohamed Gouled, IFC Vice President of Industries; Chijioke Egejuru, IFC Investment Officer, Infrastructure; Mike Last, WIOCC Group Chief Marketing Officer; Stuart Blythe, Baker Botts Partner

To improve access to quality broadband internet and data hosting services for homes and businesses in Africa, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has invested a $30 million equity investment in West Indian Ocean Cable Company Holding Ltd (WIOCC Group), a leading digital connectivity and infrastructure provider in Africa.

The new investment will support WIOCC Group's continued rollout of terrestrial fibre-optic networks, investment in new subsea cables, and the launch of world-class, open-access core and edge data centre infrastructure across the continent.

Digital infrastructure is the backbone of Africa’s internet economy. Ongoing investment in fibre optic networks and data centres will allow increased access to more affordable and higher-speed internet across the African continent, according to eConomy Africa 2020, a report by IFC and Google.

This expanded access could yield significant economic gains: a 10% increase in mobile broadband penetration in Africa would yield a 2.5% increase in GDP per capita, notes a study by the International Telecommunication Union.

"At IFC, we recognize that there is a critical need for reliable digital infrastructure, which is fundamental to improving the quality of people’s lives and driving business growth," said Mohamed Gouled, IFC Vice President of Industries, during a signing ceremony with WIOCC Group today in London.

"In the past fiscal year, ending in June 2022, IFC invested $1.3 billion in digital infrastructure, with over half of those investments taking place in Africa’s telecommunications, media, and technology sectors. Our partnership with WIOCC Group underscores IFC’s commitment to closing the digital divide in Africa."

IFC's equity investment builds on its previous financing to WIOCC Group, in the form of a $20 million loan issued in 2020 via IFC’s fast-track COVID-19 financing facility, a facility set up to help sustain economies and preserve jobs during the pandemic crisis.

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Google partnered with WIOCC to land the state-of-the-art Equiano subsea cable in Lagos, Nigeria in April 2022. 

"IFC is a true strategic partner that has been there for us since the start. IFC's role as one of the founding lenders in 2007 was critical in enabling WIOCC Group to grow and thrive. This new investment supports our goal of establishing an integrated, open-access, core-to-edge cloud ecosystem throughout the African continent, underpinned by truly scalable, carrier-neutral, open access, shared infrastructure that delivers high-quality and affordable digital connectivity,” said Chris Wood, WIOCC Group Chief Executive Officer.

"By decentralizing the cloud and enabling content delivery to the point of use, we are establishing the infrastructure required to expedite successful deployment and adoption of 5G, the Internet of Things and other key developments that will deliver economic growth throughout the 2020s.

IFC's digital infrastructure strategy in Africa is aimed at enabling reliable, and affordable connectivity. This includes investing in the growth of independent tower operators, data centres and broadband, as well as supporting mobile operators, with an emphasis on supporting expanded connectivity in fragile and conflict situations (FCS) and low-Income International Development Association countries (LIC-IDA).

In the past fiscal year (July 1, 2021–June 2022), 34% of IFC's digital infrastructure investments were in FCS and IDA countries.

Over the last decade, IFC committed and mobilized more than $7 billion in digital infrastructure and services, with more than $2.5 billion between July 2020 and June 2022. In addition to providing financing, IFC supports investees to improve corporate governance and align environmental and social practices with IFC's performance standards.