African development fund invests USD100m in Essar Kenya

3 Jul 2009

Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) has invested KES7.5 billion (USD100 million) in Kenya’s fourth and newest mobile operator Essar Telecom Kenya (ETK), formerly known as Econet Wireless Kenya, to help it expand its East Africa operations. As reported by the Xinhua news agency, ETK, a partnership between South African-based Econet Wireless International and India’s Essar Group, issued a statement this week in which it claimed to have signed up 400,000 subscribers since launching commercial services in November 2008 under the ‘Yu’ brand, whilst it expects this number to grow significantly as it completes its rollout across Kenya by the end of the year. ‘We are delighted to have PAIDF, Africa’s largest infrastructure equity fund, as an investor in our business,’ said ETK CEO Srinivasa Iyengar, whilst a PAIDF spokesperson said, ‘We are certain that the Essar Group will bring about a landscape change to the mobile telecoms market in the East African region that will extend beyond Kenya… The partnership between the Fund and Essar Group is in line with our strategy of partnering with companies and individuals looking to expand on infrastructure investment opportunities on the African continent.’ ETK is following a low-cost commercial model targeting the youth sector with offers including free SMS messages, whilst it has announced plans to expand into Uganda this year.

Kenya, Essar Telecom Kenya (yu)