In the DRC, mobile phone services only cover 50.9% of the population, according to official statistics. Telecom operators need additional infrastructure capacity to bridge the digital divide.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank focused on financing the private sector in emerging countries, announced on Monday June 26 that it had granted a $60 million loan to the telecom tower manager Eastcastle Infrastructure. The latter will use these funds to finance the extension of its network in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Eastcastle will lease its new towers to mobile network operators and other digital service providers in the DRC. This will allow them to expand their coverage while reducing their operating costs and energy consumption through infrastructure sharing.
This investment is part of Eastcastle’s growth ambitions in sub-Saharan Africa. The company announced in June 2021 that it would invest $130 million in strengthening its activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire. This stems from the sale of the majority of its capital to a consortium formed by African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), Adenia Partners and the IFC.
“ We are very pleased that following IFC’s equity investment in Eastcastle, it has been able to provide our DRC operations with a $60 million long-term debt program. Together with the $34 million from Standard Bank of South Africa, this will allow us to exceed 1,000 towers in the DRC ,” said Peter Lewis, co-founder and director of Eastcastle Infrastructure Ltd.
The extension of Eastcastle’s network of telecom towers should help improve the quality and coverage of telecom services in the DRC. According to the latest data from the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Congo (ARPTC), the country has 48.4 million mobile phone subscribers for a penetration rate of 50.9%. The number of mobile Internet users stands at 22.6 million, representing a penetration rate of 23.8%.