WIOCC secures $20 million loan to boost African connectivity

21 August 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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The West Indian Ocean Cable Company Ltd (WIOCC) has welcomed a US$20 million cash injection from the IFC to boost connectivity across Africa.

IFC—a sister organisation of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. The body extended the $20 million loan as part of its global $8 billion fast-track Covid-19 response facility, announced in March to help sustain economies and preserve jobs during the pandemic.

The IFC’s support will help WIOCC – which is jointly owned by 14 African telecommunication operators – to upgrade subsea capacity, including the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), and roll out terrestrial fibre optic networks across the region.

Chris Wood, WIOCC CEO, said: “Pursuing our expansion will allow our company to leverage the opportunities created by the increasing demand for online services during the present crisis. It is also a demonstration of our dynamic partnership with IFC.”

According to a report by IFC, around 22% of Africa’s population has access to an internet connection, the lowest of any region in the world.

The African Union, with support from the World Bank Group, has set the goal of connecting every individual, business, and government on the continent by 2030, an initiative this latest partnership is expected to support.

Linda Munyengeterwa, IFC’s regional industry director for infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa, said: “IFC’s partnership with WIOCC will help increase internet access across Africa, improving lives and allowing businesses to create and sustain potentially millions of jobs. With COVID-19 disrupting trade and business activity in an unprecedented fashion, building a strong internet infrastructure in Africa is more important than ever.”