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Telco towers deal “boost to enterprise and business growth in Democratic Republic of Congo” says EAIF chair

US$20 million loan is 5th EAIF deal with Helios Towers Africa

The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF or the Fund) has announced that it has loaned US$20 million to Helios Towers Africa (HTA) to partly finance the purchase of c 950 telecommunications towers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). EAIF is participating in a syndicated loan providing HTA with a total of US$105 million.

HTA is refurbishing and upgrading the towers to increase their working life, improve their reach and efficiency and their capacity to carry more services. The company, which leases tower space to mobile phone and data companies, is also likely to build new towers in the country as demand grows. HTA now owns over 6,500 towers across Africa.

EAIF is part of the donor-backed Private Infrastructure Development Group. EAIF is funded by the governments of the UK (DFID), Switzerland (SECO), Sweden (Sida) and The Netherlands (DGIS) and by private sector banks and development finance organisations. EAIF’s primary purpose is to stimulate private sector infrastructure projects that help develop new sustainable economic activity and new jobs, thus helping to reduce poverty. It is managed by Investec Asset Management, one of the largest third party investors in private equity, credit, public equity and sovereign debt across the African continent. In May 2016, Investec Asset Management was appointed to manage the US$670m Fund following a competitive tender process. It has integrated the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund into its African investment platform.

The economy of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been growing at around 9 per cent in recent years. David White, Chair of EAIF, says that, “Advanced telecommunications are vital to unlocking more of the DRC’s potential. HTA’s investment is an important boost to enterprise and business growth in the country.”

EAIF is a leading player in helping to facilitate the digital communications infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa. This latest loan to HTA is the fifth transaction between the two. EAIF has also supported digital technology projects with other private sector businesses, most notably in undersea communications cabling and a satellite constellation over Africa. The Fund says that its primary mission to help alleviate poverty in Africa is accelerated by facilitating telecommunications development.

“No other technology has the ability to bring remote communities into the economic mainstream, provide quick and reliable payments systems, open up markets to existing businesses and stimulate new business creation. HTA’s business model widens consumer choice and helps develop more competitive telco markets, which is good for business, good forjobs and communities and good for national economic development,” says David White.

Commenting on the closure of its latest transaction with EAIF, HTA’s Chief Executive Officer, Kash Pandya, says, “EAIF has been a skilled, dependable, reliable and wholly supportive part of HTA’s growth and success. I am delighted that for the fifth time EAIF is with us as we grow the business across Africa. Our latest venture means that we are playing a key role in contributing to the long-term success of the economy of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Our business model means that telecommunications service providers can focus their capital and management energies on the products and services they offer their customers. Because we own, operate and maintain the infrastructure, the incremental cost to our users of providing services to their customers falls. One of the many beneficial consequences of that is that more remote areas are brought into reach and the cost of services is more affordable in less developed areas.”