9 November 2018

Africa: OPIC Backs African Cellular Communications Company with U.S.$100 Million Loan

Photo: AfDB Group/Flickr
Day 1 of the Africa Investment Forum at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
press release

Johannesburg — The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, and Africell Holdings Limited today signed a commitment letter for $100 million to expand access to telecommunications in Africa. The project is expected to have a highly developmental impact particularly in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo by expanding the availability and quality of affordable mobile telephone and internet services in these countries. OPIC Managing Director for Africa Worku Gachou and Africell Chief Investment Officer Ian Paterson signed the commitment.

Telecommunications are a critical part of development in emerging markets. This project seeks to promote better access to and higher usage of both mobile voice and broadband technologies in its markets by offering high-quality service at affordable rates.

“Africell‘s success to putting communities at the heart and soul of the company’s strategy and to management’s focus on operational efficiency to create value for its customers,” said Africell Founding CEO and Group Chairman Ziad Dalloul. “It is important to partner with investors who truly understand our business model, as well as our markets, to structure solutions that support our growth programs.”

“Telecommunications is now essential to a country's economic development and competitiveness,” said OPIC President and CEO Ray W. Washburne. “OPIC’s partnership with Africell highlights our goal of improving communication infrastructure across the continent by supporting our Connect Africa initiative. Better connectivity will remove barriers that restrict growth and commerce.”

Earlier this summer, OPIC launched Connect Africa, an initiative aimed at improving connectivity in Africa by investing $1 billion in physical infrastructure, technology, and value chains.

The transaction was led and arranged by Lintel Capital UK Advisors LLP, a London-based firm that specialises in sub-Saharan African investments.

About OPIC

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.

OPIC services are available to new and expanding businesses planning to invest in more than 160 countries worldwide. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers. All OPIC projects must adhere to best international practices and cannot cause job loss in the United States.

About Africell

Africell was established in 2001 and is one of the fastest-growing mobile telecommunications operators in Africa with a focus and skillset tailored for operations in frontier markets. Africell has established itself as the market leading operator in The Gambia and in Sierra Leone and is rapidly growing operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. Today, Africell’s total number of active subscribers is greater than 12 million.

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