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IFC Supports Increased Broadband Connectivity Across Africa with WIOCC Loan

Nairobi, Kenya , August 18 , 2020 — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a loan to the West Indian Ocean Cable Company Ltd (WIOCC) to help the telecoms infrastructure provider expand and improve affordable internet connectivity as it continues to serve over 30 countries in Africa.
The $20 million loan is part of IFC’s global $8 billion fast-track COVID-19 response facility, announced in March to help sustain economies and preserve jobs during the pandemic. IFC’s support will help WIOCC upgrade subsea capacity, including the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), and roll out terrestrial fiber optic networks across the region. EASSy is an undersea fiber optic cable system connecting countries in Eastern Africa to the rest of the world.
According to a report by IFC , only about 22 percent 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. IFC’s partnership with WIOCC is a step toward helping address the connectivity gap in Africa.
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.”
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.”  
WIOCC, a private company jointly owned by 14 African telecommunication operators, makes strategic investments in digital infrastructure to support reliable and scalable connectivity in Africa. WIOCC will be making additional investments in digital infrastructure in the immediate term in light of increased demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About IFC
IFC—a sister organization 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. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2019, we invested more than $19 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org .
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