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IFC Makes Its First Investment in Free-To-Air Television Broadcasting in Africa

Washington, DC., December  14, 2001— The International Finance Corporation has signed an agreement with Africa Media Group Limited (AMG) to provide an equity investment of US$5 million to develop a free-to-air television broadcasting network which operates across the African continent.
Domiciled in Mauritius, AMG works with local broadcasting enterprises to telecast high quality programming under the brand name, TV Africa.  TV Africa—available to anyone with access to a television—is chiefly a content provider that acquires and produces programming which is broadcast, free-to-air, to a potential African audience of more than 110 million viewers through an existing network of 39 affiliates operating in 23 sub-Saharan African countries.
While radio is still the dominant mass medium in sub-Saharan Africa, access to cheaper television sets and liberalization in broadcasting is leading to increased television penetration, even in the most remote rural areas.  TV Africa hopes to make an important contribution to the African television broadcasting industry by promoting capacity building of local content through co-production, program commissioning, acquisition of programming rights, and support to firms involved in writing, producing, and processing of content and creative talent.
As part of its engagement, IFC and AMG worked together to enhance developmental benefits by ensuring the provision of educational programming, information on HIV/AIDS, and other important health and public service notices.  IFC and AMG will also continue to maintain best practices in terms of AMG’s programming content and in broadcasting advertising in a reasonable manner.
IFC’s Director for Information and Communication Technology investments, Mohsen Khalil, noted, “The project will help to provide free access to quality television programming normally available in Africa through subscription-based media.  IFC’s investment also fits in with the Corporation's overall strategy of promoting the dissemination and use of information for development with particular focus on underserved regions like Africa.”
Mr. Quentin Green, AMG’s Chief Operating Officer commented, “IFC’s participation in the financing of AMG is important because of the added value that IFC brings over and above it’s financial commitment.  In this case, IFC’s participation is assisting AMG in reaching its goal of being a socially responsible company that makes a positive contribution to the society in which it operates.”
IFC’s financing is part of a $22.5 million investment package that will be used by AMG to acquire programming and programming rights, develop its infrastructure, and cover its working capital requirements.  IFC’s investment is being made in partnership with The AIG African Infrastructure Fund, a Mauritius-based private equity fund and ZM Africa Investment Fund, L.P. a fund based in the U.S.
AMG plans to expand its coverage throughout the African continent.  Its main operations are located in Johannesburg, South Africa, where its programming is packaged and transmitted to the affiliates via satellite.  In order to manage its network of affiliates and to support its continent-wide operations, the company has regional hubs located in Abidjan, Lagos, and Nairobi.
IFC’s mission is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives.  IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding in 1956, IFC has committed more than $31 billion of its own funds and arranged $20 billion in syndications for 2,636 companies in 140 developing countries.  IFC's committed portfolio at the end of FY01 was $14.3 billion.