UK development finance institution CDC Group has made a $180 million equity investment in Liquid Telecom. The partnership sees CDC receive a 10 percent stake in “Africa’s largest independent fiber and cloud provider” and gain a seat on the company’s board, to be filled by an undetermined representative.
Digital infrastructure investment in Africa has helped connect the continent, allowing its burgeoning startup ecosystem to grow while providing reliable broadband internet access and cloud services to remote, underserved, and impoverished areas. Liquid Telecom has been a significant provider of this infrastructure, building the 70,000-kilometer ‘One Africa’ fiber network. Spanning 13 countries and some of Africa’s most remote territory, the network “took ten years to complete and serves some of the most remote locations with the fastest network speeds in Africa – from Cape Town, through all the Southern, Central, and Eastern African countries, and…[now] Sudan and Egypt.” The company also offers “hosting and co-location and digital services,” with “state-of-the-art data centers in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Nairobi.”
CDC CEO Nick O’Donohoe called digital infrastructure “a major problem for Africa’s governments, people and its businesses.” Their investment – “one of CDC’s biggest ever” – will assist in “addressing infrastructure bottlenecks and [help] bring about the innovation and efficiency gains that result from better internet access.”
The development finance institution’s previous infrastructure investments in Africa have had a proven impact – the press release announcing the deal said residents “have benefited hugely from [CDC’s investment in] the local mobile phone industry…twenty years ago.” Liquid Telecom Group CEO Nic Rudnick hopes the capital infusion will allow the company to have a similar impact, “[accelerating] expansion along our award-winning Cape-to-Cairo route and further into Central and Western Africa.”
“Once completed, [the network] will bring significant economic and social benefits – from providing access to online educational resources to supporting national economies, creating more jobs and driving the adoption of new technologies,” said Rudnick. “This is aligned to the vision of our Executive Chairman Strive Masiyiwa to not only connect Africa from North to South, but also from East to West.”