International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, Google Inc., Convergence Partners, and Mitsui & Co. have agreed to invest up to US$100 million in CSquared, a partnership focused on deploying wholesale, carrier-neutral, open-access fiber optic networks across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The investment will help improve broadband connectivity in a region where the lack of dependable internet access impairs economic growth, competitiveness, and the development of basic services. It will expand Google’s existing operations in Uganda and Ghana, with the goal of entering several new markets over the next five years.
The investment is part of IFC’s Digital Infrastructure Initiative, which aims to increase internet access in under served regions. Improving broadband connectivity through the Digital Infrastructure Initiative is a priority for the World Bank Group—better broadband penetration has a direct impact on GDP growth, increases productivity and transparency, and helps bridge the gender gap.
Fiber optic cable, however, is expensive—just one kilometer can cost between US$15,000 and US$30,000—and Africa needs at least half a million more kilometers. Deploying and operating infrastructure on a shared basis—Csquared’s business model—can help lower installation and consumer costs. CSquared aims to offer high-quality, affordable wholesale services to all licensed operators.
CSquared has built more than 800 km of fiber in Kampala and Entebbe, Uganda; and more than 840 km of fiber in the Ghanaian cities of Accra, Tema, and Kumasi. More than 25 internet service providers and mobile network operators now use the company’s fiber networks to offer broadband services and 4G data to end users, with over 1,200 tower and commercial building sites connected directly to CSquared’s fiber infrastructure.
“This project demonstrates IFC’s commitment to increasing affordable and reliable internet access under the global Digital Infrastructure Initiative,” said Aniko Szigetvari, Global Head of Telecom, Media and Technology Investments at IFC. “By supporting broadband business models that promote shared infrastructure, the initiative will reduce entry barriers and deployment costs in the telecommunications sector, increase affordability, and enable the development of digital economies.”
Marian Croak, Vice-President at Google said: “We believe that together under CSquared, we can get more done to roll-out and operate affordable, high-speed, and reliable infrastructure to expand internet access in Africa. Project Link is demonstrating the impact of shared wholesale infrastructure, and we’re excited to see CSquared bring more infrastructure to more service providers and their customers.”
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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY16, we delivered a record $19 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org
CSquared is a technology company, making commercially driven investments into broadband-enabling infrastructure throughout Africa. When it comes to Internet access, a basic connection is useful — but it is abundant, affordable broadband that can transform communities and help people and businesses make the most of opportunities online. By investing in internet infrastructure and making it available to local internet service providers and mobile operators, CSquared helps bring high-quality broadband access to Africa.
Google is a leading US-based international information technology company founded in 1998. Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Through products and platforms like Search, Maps, Gmail, Android, Google Play, Chrome and YouTube, Google plays a meaningful role in the daily lives of billions of people and has become one of the most widely-known companies in the world. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., which is publicly listed on NASDAQ.
About Convergence Partners
Convergence Partners is a pan-African ICT–focused private equity player, delivering enhanced investment returns while underpinning Continental development. Convergence Partners has a proven track record of developing new investment opportunities as well as actively adding value to investments across the life cycle of ICT assets. As impact investors, Convergence Partners brings its skills, experience and capital to accelerate ICT infrastructure development on the Continent, focusing on initiatives that increase availability of communications, broadband services and new technology offerings to the people of Africa.
Mitsui is one of the most diversified and comprehensive trading, investment and service enterprises in the world, with 137 offices in 65 countries as of April, 2017. Utilizing its global operating locations, network and information resources, it is multilaterally pursuing business that ranges from product sales, worldwide logistics and financing, through to the development of major international infrastructure and other projects in the following fields: Iron & Steel Products, Mineral & Metal Resources, Infrastructure Projects, Integrated Transportation Systems, Chemicals, Energy, Food & Retail Management, Healthcare & Service, Consumer Business, IT &; Communication Business, Corporate Development Business. Mitsui is actively taking on challenges for global business innovation around the world. For more information, visit http://www.mitsui.com/jp/en