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Airtel takes $194M IFC loan for African investment

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Airtel Africa has taken out a $194 million loan facility with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support its operations and investments across Africa.

The telecoms group, which operates in 14 countries across Africa, said the loan facility has a tenure of eight years and will be used to support Airtel Africa's operations and investments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo and Zambia, by "providing a more diversified access to local funding."

"The new financing facility is in line with Airtel's Africa strategy to increase debt within its operating companies," the group said in an emailed statement.

Airtel Africa had 134.7 million users across Africa at the end of September 2022 and reported interim revenue growth of 12.9% year-on-year (YoY), to $2.57 billion for the six months.

The IFC is a sister organization of the World Bank and the Airtel loan is supported by co-financing from institutional investors through IFC's Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP).

The group said the IFC loan in Zambia in particular is supported by the Local Currency Facility of the International Development Association's (IDA) Private Sector Window.

Sustainability strategy

As part of the IFC's loan facility, Airtel Africa has committed to comply with the applicable requirements of IFC Performance Standards on social and environmental sustainability and has put in place a dedicated environmental and social action plan.

"I am very excited to announce the signing of this new facility with IFC. Not only does it align with our focus on improving our balance sheet through localising debt within our OpCos, but as we make progress on our sustainability journey it also supports our commitments and ability to meet strong ESG [Environmental Social Governance] criteria," said Airtel Africa CEO Segun Ogunsanya.

Airtel Africa launched its sustainability strategy in October 2021 setting out specific sustainability targets and long-term goals which are closely aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has made mobile connectivity even more urgent for both social and economic development. Helping more people connect to affordable and fast internet networks is a priority for IFC in Africa, especially in the continent's lower-income countries. The partnership with Airtel Africa will help achieve this," added IFC's VP for Africa Sérgio Pimenta.

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*Top image is of Airtel Africa CEO Segun Ogunsanya. (Source: Airtel Africa)

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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