The new financing will support digital infrastructure growth in the DRC
Standard Bank Group has partnered with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to successfully execute a USD 92 million loan facility for tower operator Eastcastle Infrastructure. The financing will support new telecommunications infrastructure throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and improve African access to the digital economy.
Through its office in the DRC, Standard Bank Group acted as co-lead mandate arranger and will provide USD 32 million equivalent in financing. This will comprise a USD 27 million term loan, of which USD 20 million is allocated as a Social Loan to support affordable basic infrastructure in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goal 9. Standard Bank Group will also provide a USD 5 million working capital facility for general corporate purposes, including capital expenditure.
The remaining capital is being provided by the IFC, part of the World Bank Group, with support from a B lender.
The DRC ranks among the bottom 10 countries worldwide in terms of cellular penetration as of Q3 2023, with less than half its citizens estimated to be using the technology in 2021. The new funding will therefore support Africa’s continuing digital revolution, financing new build-to-suit towers and transmission towers across the DRC and addressing the growing demand for access to data and the digital economy in rural communities.
Eastcastle Infrastructure was established in 2020 to pursue new build-to-suit telecom towers and related infrastructure opportunities, initially in Nigeria, DRC and the Ivory Coast. The founders’ experience in building and retaining locally resourced African telecom-related businesses extends to over twelve African countries, and has resulted in the creation of thousands of jobs for local nationals.
The transaction marks Standard Bank Group’s support for a new player in the telecommunications sector during their inaugural financing, after Eastcastle previously raised equity for its initial start-up. The execution of a new loan in a difficult geography such as the DRC is also testament to the Group’s local market expertise and strong position as Africa’s largest bank.
“There remains a significant infrastructure gap in many African countries, including in the DRC where the mobile penetration is especially low,” said Nina Triantis, Global Head of Telecoms, Media and Technology (TMT) at Standard Bank Group. “The market has vast untapped potential for future growth, but development has remained hindered by many of the challenges facing similar sub-Saharan states, such as poor energy infrastructure, poverty, and limited access to financing. Investment in telecommunications towers and digital infrastructure is vital to meet Africa’s growing demand for data consumption, and to drive the ongoing digital revolution across the continent.”
Philip Hobden, Executive, TMT Client Coverage at Standard Bank Group, added: “As Africa’s largest bank, we’re delighted to support a growing client in driving positive economic and social impact, by increasing access to affordable basic infrastructure and expanding digital inclusion”.
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