November 9, 2022
Investment in Africa Mobile Networks bridges the digital divide between rural and urban populations in Sub-Saharan Africa
The BlueOrchard Sustainable Assets Fund (BOSAF) and the OP Finnfund Global Impact Fund I will provide a USD 20 million debt investment to support the growth of Africa Mobile Networks (“AMN”), a telecom provider focused on rural Sub-Saharan Africa, in bringing network services to an estimated 35 million people.
Mobile network access and connectivity are instrumental to promote financial inclusion and support the development of rural populations in emerging economies. In numerous African countries, daily activities such as transferring money, taking and repaying credit loans, subscribing to an insurance policy, or paying school fees for their children are only conducted via mobile phones. Mobile network access and connectivity enable individuals, who previously were cut off from technologies, economic and mobile systems, to be granted first-time access to these services.
“AMN is connecting the unconnected in Sub-Saharan Africa by providing mobile network access for rural areas. We have a unique opportunity to accelerate digital inclusion in growth markets and digital infrastructure is a key driver of sustainable growth and shared prosperity. BlueOrchard is committed to seizing this opportunity and accompanying its partners and investors on this journey” said Philipp Mueller, CEO of BlueOrchard.
“AMN is a great example of an innovative digital infrastructure company”, said Finnfund’s Head of Digital Infrastructure and Solutions portfolio Jussi Ahonen. “AMN provides a solution to the markets that have not been served by the traditional business models.”
AMN aims to build 10’000 base stations in over 20 Sub-Saharan countries while serving a total population of 35 million people. AMN’s portfolio is spread across different countries, with exposure to a significant number of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) such as DRC, Liberia, Congo and Guinea. AMN has strong and substantial partnerships with global telecommunication and technology firms.
“Improving rural connectivity is a strategic priority for OP Finnfund Global Impact Fund I and the linkage between the increased mobile penetration and GDP increase is clear,” said Tuomas Virtala, Head of Asset Management at OP Corporate Bank.
“Conventional telecom tower companies are unable to serve the rural population economically due to the significant costs of erecting mobile towers in a rural context. AMN addresses this problem with an ultra-compact base station which delivers GSM voice, SMS and data service, serving most villages with a single tower. This ultra-low capex and opex is the reason why AMN can build and operate base stations profitably where others using conventional technology and processes cannot,” said Ashwin West, Head of Sustainable Infrastructure Investments at BlueOrchard.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 1.1 billion people, one seventh of the global population, 62% of which is classified as rural. It is not only the fastest growing region in the world, but also has the world’s largest population percentage that does not have mobile coverage. According to estimations, more than 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are living in villages which have no usable mobile network service today. We have set out to address this challenge”, said Michael Darcy, CEO of AMN.
For further information, please contact:
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Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) is a group of companies with its corporate head office in the UK that builds, owns, operates and maintains mobile network infrastructure, delivering services for the biggest Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Africa. AMN’s Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) model allows Africa’s tier-1 Operators to expand their network coverage deep into rural areas, with no capex investment and no opex risk. AMN uses highly advanced technology to enable services to be delivered economically and sustainably to smaller communities than has ever been possible before. AMN is bringing 2G, 3G and 4G voice and data connectivity to towns and villages which have previously been unconnected. AMN currently operates 3,000 base stations in 12 countries and is launching operations in 3 more countries in 2023, and ultimately will cover almost every country in sub-Saharan Africa.
About OP Finnfund Global Impact Fund I
OP Finnfund Global Impact Fund I Ky is the first global emerging markets impact fund in Finland. The fund targets significant positive impacts in addition to financial return. The first two rounds of funding have raised a total of EUR 135 million. OP Asset Management Ltd, part of OP Financial Group, one of the largest banking groups in Finland, acts as a portfolio manager for the fund and OP Fund Management Company Ltd acts as an alternative investment fund manager of the fund. Finnfund, a Finnish development financier and impact investor acts as an anchor investor and advisor to the fund.
About BlueOrchard Finance Ltd
BlueOrchard is a leading global impact investment manager and member of the Schroders Group. As a pioneering impact investor, the firm is dedicated to generating lasting positive impact for communities and the environment, while aiming at providing attractive returns to investors. BlueOrchard was founded in 2001, by initiative of the UN, as the first commercial manager of microfinance debt investments worldwide. Today, the firm offers impact investment solutions across asset classes, connecting millions of entrepreneurs in emerging and frontier markets with investors with the aim to make impact investment solutions accessible to all and to advance the conscious use of capital. Being a professional investment manager and expert in innovative blended finance mandates, BlueOrchard has a sophisticated international investor base and is a trusted partner of leading global development finance institutions. To date, BlueOrchard has invested over USD 9.8bn across more than 105 countries. Over 255 million poor and vulnerable people in emerging and frontier markets received access to financial and related services with the support of BlueOrchard as of June 2022. For additional information, please visit: www.blueorchard.com.