US government lends $100m to Africell for network modernisation
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 global market.”
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 Africell.