IFC’s Investments in Digital Infrastructure Hit New Record, Bridge Connectivity Gaps in Emerging Markets
For the second year in a row, IFC investments in the telecommunications, media, and technology sector surpassed the $1 billion mark, totaling $1.3 billion and representing a five-fold increase in digital infrastructure commitments over the past five years. IFC’s investments reflect the tremendous growth opportunities presented by the telecom sector across emerging markets globally, including further rollouts of 4G and fiber networks and expansion of digital technologies, enterprise IT services, and cloud infrastructure.
This significant business opportunity is driven by accelerated digital transformation in recent years and a push to bridge the digital divide. As different stakeholders rally to respond to the challenges, IFC’s investments in the sector are also helping to ensure that this transformation contributes to green and inclusive economic growth as well as equitable access to digital services.
“Robust digital connectivity is the foundation of a flourishing digital economy and a fair, informed society. IFC’s investments in the digital infrastructure sector are breaking new ground, connecting the unconnected, and creating opportunities, particularly in Africa, where we secured 51 percent of our commitments,” said Morgan Landy, Director, Global Infrastructure.
eConomy Africa 2020, a report by IFC and Google, found that Africa’s Internet economy has the potential to reach $180 billion by 2025, accounting for 5.2 percent of the continent’s GDP. By 2050, the projected potential contribution could reach $712 billion, 8.5 percent of the continent’s GDP.
In Africa, both small and large investments are making a difference. A $1.2 million commitment to CSquared supports the landing of Google’s Equiano submarine cable in Togo and the formation of the country’s first wholesale open-access fiber network, supplying high-quality and affordable digital connectivity. Larger change-making commitments include the $430 million anchoring of pan-African telecom operator Axian’s inaugural bond issuance to expand the company’s digital infrastructure across several countries. Other projects in the region include a deepening partnership with one of the leading pan-African digital connectivity providers, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, with a new $90 million equity investment to increase the company’s fiber network footprint and expand its data center infrastructure.
IFC’s investment in digital assets managed by DigitalBridge in Southeast Asia and Latin America further exemplifies the corporation’s focus on strategic partnerships as a means to expand digital access and create economic opportunity while enhancing sustainability. Among the projects supported by the $100 million commitment are Brazilian data center operator Scala’s expansion into Chile and Mexico, which includes plans for Latin America’s first data center to run fully on renewable energy, and two independent tower platforms – Highline in Brazil, and EdgePoint, operating in Indonesia and Malaysia. This was followed by an additional $8.3 million indirect equity investment in EdgePoint to support its entrance into the tower market in the Philippines.
In addition to a strong track record in Africa, 34 percent of IFC’s digital infrastructure investments in the past fiscal year (July 1, 2021–June 2022) were in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS) and low-income International Development Agency (IDA) countries. Additional landmark investments this fiscal year will enable better quality and affordable service to more mobile customers in emerging markets around the world. These include:
- $184.5 million to Telecom Argentina to expand digital connectivity in parts of Argentina that lack service coverage
- $150 million loan to Dialog Axiata to expand its 4G network in Sri Lanka
- $25 million in debt financing for Atlas Tower Kenya to build 450 telecom towers
- $20 million loan to Telecom Armenia to boost Armenia’s broadband connectivity
- $70 million financing package to Communication and Renewable Energy Infrastructure (CREI) Phils Inc.: In addition to securing better coverage and optimal allocation of high-speed mobile networks in the Philippines, and in line with the nation’s climate goals, this project will lead to significant greenhouse gas (GHG) savings. IFC will also assist the company in aligning its environmental and social practices with IFC’s performance standards.
Over the last decade, IFC committed and mobilized more than $7 billion in digital infrastructure and services, with more than $2.5 billion between July 2020 and June 2022. In addition to providing financing, IFC is helping investees improve corporate governance and align environmental and social practices with IFC’s performance standards. IFC’s expertise plays a critical role in enabling companies to achieve sustainable, long-term growth.
IFC—a 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 2022, IFC committed a record $32.8 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of global compounding crises. For more information, visit www.ifc.org, www.ifc.org/infrastructure, and www.ifc.org/tmt.
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