AFRICA – The West Indian Ocean Cable Company Ltd (WIOCC) has secured a US$20 million loan from the IFC to finance expansion and improvement of internet connectivity in the African continent.

IFC, in a statement noted that the loan will help the telecoms infrastructure provider upgrade subsea capacity, including the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), and roll out terrestrial fiber optic networks across the region.

The development financial institution further noted that the $20 million loan to WIOCC 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.

EASSy is an undersea fiber optic cable system connecting countries in Eastern Africa to the rest of the world.

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.

To this end, 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 therefore a step toward helping address the connectivity gap in Africa.

 “Pursuing our expansion will allow our company to leverage the opportunities created by the increasing demand for online services during the present crisis,” Chris Wood, WIOCC CEO, said.

He further explained that the US$20 million was “a demonstration of our dynamic partnership with IFC.”

Linda Munyengeterwa, IFC’s Regional Industry Director for Infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa, said, “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.”

Munyengeterwa further noted that,“With COVID-19 disrupting trade and business activity in an unprecedented fashion, building a strong internet infrastructure in Africa is more important than ever.”

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, which serves over 30 countries in Africa, 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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