IFC Partners with Telecom Armenia to Boost High-speed Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Economy in Armenia

To improve access to high-speed internet and support a strong digital economy in Armenia, IFC will provide a $20 million loan to Telecom Armenia, one of the country’s largest mobile and fixed broadband operators. This will be IFC’s first investment in the telecommunications sector both in Armenia and in the wider South Caucasus region.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw the emergence of reliable mobile and fixed broadband connectivity as an essential service, providing users with access to information, health care, education, and public services. Additionally, high-speed broadband infrastructure, as an enabler of the digital economy, is a key driver of economic growth and innovation, opening up opportunities for digital financial services and e-commerce.

IFC’s loan to Telecom Armenia aims to help the country seize new opportunities through better broadband access, including in rural areas. Additional financing will be provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Ameriabank, amounting to a total financing package of $45 million.

The financing package will help the company refinance existing debt and fund a capital investment plan that will improve both the coverage and service quality of its telecom networks, including expansion of the 4G mobile network and rollout of a fiber access network across the country. In a country with a population of around 2.9 million people, the project is expected to provide around 1.1 million mobile subscribers with faster and higher-quality internet connections while also offering more than 450,000 households access to faster fiber access technology.

Aleksandr Yesayan, Team Telecom Armenia’s Chairman and co-founder said: “We welcome our long-term partnership with IFC, especially given the reduced investor appetite amid global developments. IFC’s support will enable us to accelerate our capital investment program while expanding and upgrading both our fixed and mobile networks. This will help us offer improved services to both individual subscribers and business clients, spurring competitiveness, innovation, and economic growth in Armenia.”

IFC’s funding will also help the company strengthen its position in the wholesale segment where it provides data transit services to local and regional telecom operators across Armenia, leading to a more resilient and faster internet infrastructure. The network upgrade is further expected to reduce energy consumption by allowing subscribers in the country to access high-speed internet through a more energy efficient telecom infrastructure.

Cheryl Edleson Hanway, IFC’s Regional Senior Manager for Infrastructure and Natural Resources, said: “IFC’s investment will support upgraded mobile phone services and faster internet access in Armenia, spurring the country’s digital economy, trade, and entrepreneurship, and accelerating its post-COVID recovery. By supporting Armenia’s digital infrastructure, IFC will also help create an enabling environment for additional investments and job creation opportunities in the country.”

IFC is a leader in the Telecoms, Media, and Technology sector in emerging markets. Learn more here.

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