IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a loan to the West Indian Ocean Cable Company Ltd (WIOCC) to help the telecoms infrastructure provider expand and improve affordable internet connectivity as it continues to serve over 30 countries in Africa.
The $20 million loan is part of IFC’s global $8 billion fast-track COVID-19 response facility, announced in March to help sustain economies and preserve jobs during the pandemic. IFC’s support will help WIOCC upgrade subsea capacity, including the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), and roll out terrestrial fiber optic networks across the region. EASSy is an undersea fiber optic cable system connecting countries in Eastern Africa to the rest of the world.
Pursuing our expansion will allow our company to leverage the opportunities created by the increasing demand for online services during the present crisis. It is also a demonstration of our dynamic partnership with IFC.Chris Wood, WIOCC CEO
According to a report by IFC, only about 22 percent of Africa’s population has access to an internet connection, the lowest of any region in the world. The African Union, with support from the World Bank Group, has set the goal of connecting every individual, business, and government on the continent by 2030. IFC’s partnership with WIOCC is a step toward helping address the connectivity gap in Africa.
IFC’s partnership with WIOCC will help increase internet access across Africa, improving lives and allowing businesses to create and sustain potentially millions of jobs. With COVID-19 disrupting trade and business activity in an unprecedented fashion, building a strong internet infrastructure in Africa is more important than ever.Linda Munyengeterwa, IFC’s Regional Industry Director for Infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa
WIOCC, a private company jointly owned by 14 African telecommunication operators, makes strategic investments in digital infrastructure to support reliable and scalable connectivity in Africa. WIOCC will be making additional investments in digital infrastructure in the immediate term in light of increased demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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