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Airtel borrows $194m to expand in six African countries

Segun Ogunsanya Airtel.jpg

The development arm of the World Bank has lent Airtel Africa US$194 million to expand services and improve sustainability in six countries.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organisation of the World Bank, said the money will be spent in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo and Zambia, providing a more diversified access to local funding.

Airtel Africa group CEO Segun Ogunsanya (pictured) said of the loan: “Not only does it align with our focus on improving our balance sheet through localising debt within our opcos, but as we make progress on our sustainability journey it also supports our commitments and ability to meet strong ESG [environmental, social, and governance] criteria.”

Airtel Africa, which has operations in 14 countries, said the new financing facility is in line with its strategy to increase debt within its operating companies. The company’s shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange, where it has a market cap of £4.5 billion.

The loan is for eight years, said Airtel Africa. As part of agreement, the company has committed to comply with the applicable requirements of IFC performance standards on social and environmental sustainability and has put in place a dedicated environmental and social action plan. T

“This will further underpin the group’s commitment to transforming lives across the communities in which Airtel operates and provide clarity on how the group can help address inequality and support economic growth in these communities,” said the company.

Sérgio Pimenta, IFC VP for Africa, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has made mobile connectivity even more urgent for both social and economic development. Helping more people connect to affordable and fast internet networks is a priority for IFC in Africa, especially in the continent’s lower-income countries. The partnership with Airtel Africa will help achieve this.”

Airtel Africa launched its sustainability strategy in October 2021, supported by a framework of four pillars: our business, our people, our community, and our environment.

The group said its targets are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals and are designed to deliver a real and positive impact.

Airtel Africa’s inaugural Sustainability Report was published in October 2022, detailing the group’s performance to date and the progress being made towards achieving the set targets and goals.