22 June 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
A US government agency has given Africell a $100 million loan to help modernise its mobile networks in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) says the
money will "support the upgrade and expansion of mobile
telecommunications networks" in the four countries. It adds:
"This project will support economic growth and advance
OPIC’s efforts to further connect Africa to the
The loan is due to be paid back in eight years though reports
say Africell has a grace period of a further two years. It was
one item in a bundle of loans totalling $1.8 billion announced
by OPIC in Washington. Others ranged from wind power in India
to a low-cost airline in Brazil.
Africell – not related to a similarly named company in
Lebanon, which is a brand owned by Lintel – in July
2015 reported a $35 million loan from the International Finance
Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank, and a $150 million
loan from Deutsche Bank.
Africell Holding owns 100% of Africell’s
operations in Gambia, Sierra Leone and DRC, and 98.99% of
Africell Uganda. All are highly competitive markets: Uganda has six operators including