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IFC adds $35m to African fund

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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced an equity investment of $35-million in the Convergence Partners Communications Infrastructure Fund to support more rapid development of ICT across Africa.

The fund is expected to play an important development role in Africa, where ICT infrastructure bottlenecks impede the growth of business and companies lack access to finance, especially risk capital and related expertise from investors that can help businesses succeed.

The investment focus of the fund will be to address the lack of enabling infrastructure that provides quality, affordable communications services, especially broadband, across Africa. The fund aims to develop and invest in new wholesale, open access networks and related services. It will capitalise on the potential for communication technology platforms to deliver critical services such as banking, healthcare, education and government programs that contribute to improved living standards.

The fund will be managed Convergence Partners Management, a project development and investment advisory firm with a track record of developing projects and providing growth capital as well as expertise to investee companies in the first Convergence Partners investment portfolio.

Andile Ngcaba, chairman of Convergence Partners, says: “There is an exciting opportunity to accelerate the development of Africa through increased investment in critical infrastructure, specifically ICTs. We are proud to be working together with the IFC in our new fund to deploy critical capital and expertise into this sector to the benefit of the continent.”

Saleem Karimjee, IFC senior country manager for southern Africa, says: “The Convergence Partners Communications Infrastructure Fund will further spur Africa’s development. Access to communications helps improve economic competitiveness, facilitates efficient government services, increases the productivity of private businesses, and enhances living standards.”

The fund eventually aims to grow to $500-million. The first closing of the fund, which is scheduled for later in 2012, will also involve other investors, including local and international development finance institutions and banks.