August 13, 2021
Finnfund’s investment in digital connectivity increases access to internet in East, Central and Southern Africa
Finnfund provides a 12 million US dollar senior loan to Bandwidth and Cloud Services Group (BCS), a telecom infrastructure provider operating in several African countries. With Finnfund’s help as a key project investor, BCS is expanding its operations in East, Central and Southern Africa. The project increases reliability, accessibility and affordability of the internet when compared to the alternatives.
“Large areas still rely on satellite connections, and in many of these countries, data transfer prices are amongst the highest in the world”, says Yonas Maru, Managing Director of BCS. “By building our own infrastructure, BCS can offer full connectivity throughout the region with lower prices. The funding from Finnfund will go a long way in closing the connectivity gap in many parts of Africa”, says Maru.
Finnfund has chosen Digital Infrastructure and Solutions as one of its key sectors and expects the investment to create substantial development impacts. This investment in digital connectivity not only supports the economic growth of East, Central and Southern Africa but also facilitates inclusive access to critical services in finance, education and health”, says Finnfund’s Head of Digital Infrastructure and Solutions portfolio Jussi Ahonen. “With fast and reliable internet, also the small businesses will be able to scale up and reach markets that they were unable to access.”
As a member of 2XCollaborative and the gender lens investing community, Finnfund seeks to invest in businesses which boost women’s economic independence, entrepreneurship, leadership as well as their position and role in the marketplace. “Digital technology presents an opportunity to narrow gender gaps by enhancing access to welfare services, identification and financial services and information”, says Ahonen. “We are impressed by BCS’s track record of empowering women for higher positions. The company has women in leadership positions as well as policies in place to empower women in workforce”, says Ahonen. Finnfund’s investment qualifies as a 2X Challenge gender investment under leadership and employment criteria.
Jussi Ahonen, Head of Digital Infrastructure and Solutions portfolio, jussi.ahonen (a) finnfund.fi, tel. +358 50 566 4653
BCS Group is a wholesale telecommunications provider, providing services to Mobile operators, Internet Service and Content providers in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC,Zambia while serving Malawi, Mozambique, South Sudan and Burundi at the border points. BCS Group was recently licensed in Angola The company was first started in Uganda almost 10 years ago, providing wholesale Internet services. In addition, BCS Group provides transmission/ IPLC services as well as fibre construction and connectivity, leveraging its’ over 8,000 kms. regional network, including 5,000 kms. in Uganda. The Group’s network connects the landlocked parts of East, Southern and Central Africa to global Internet exchange points using extensive submarine network.