Finnfund Invests in West African Digital Infrastructure

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – BlueOrchard and Finnfund announced that they will invest US$20 million 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.

    “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.

    - Partner Message -

    “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, a global impact investment manager and member of the Schroders Group.

    “AMN is a great example of an innovative digital infrastructure company”, adds Jussi Ahonen, Head of Digital Infrastructure and Solutions at Finnfund, the Finnish Development Finance Institution and impact investor.

    The funds will be provided as debt investment through the BlueOrchard Sustainable Assets Fund (BOSAF) and the OP Finnfund Global Impact Fund I. The goal of the investment is to to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban populations in Sub-Sahara Africa, where 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.

    “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, Finnfund’s partner fund manager.

    This investment would help tackle SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) as well as tackle inequalities. 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 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.

    “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.


    Image courtesy of Kudra_Abdulaziz via Pixabay
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