To improve access to quality broadband internet and data hosting services for homes and businesses in Africa, IFC announced it is expanding its relationship with West Indian Ocean Cable Company Holding Ltd. (WIOCC Group), a leading digital connectivity and infrastructure provider in Africa, with a $30 million equity investment. The new investment will support WIOCC Group's continued rollout of terrestrial fiber-optic networks, investment in new subsea cables and the launch of world-class, open-access core and edge data center infrastructure across the continent.

Digital infrastructure is the backbone of Africa's internet economy. Ongoing investment in fiber optic networks and data centers 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.

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.

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 centers 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 30, 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.

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