Kenya’s Wananchi Group, which offers triple-play services – comprising cable TV, broadband internet and voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) – under the ‘Zuku’ brand in parts of Nairobi, has confirmed that it intends to raise KES8.9 billion (USD97.9 million) in 2012 to fund its rollout of triple-play services across East Africa. The firm, which also operates in Tanzania, has earmarked Rwanda and Malawi for future connectivity. CEO Richard Bell told Business Daily Africa that, as a result of the high interest rates currently prevailing in Kenya, Wananchi has been forced to raise the funds outside of the country. He admitted: ‘We have invested KES15 billion to date, and intend to raise the extra amount in 2012, which should enable us to increase our footprint and also build more cables in Kenya. We don’t give specific details of the financial institutions we are talking to, or how the money will be spent until the deal has been firmed, but some of the amount will definitely be put into the Kenyan market’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in May 2011 Wananchi raised USD57.5 million worth of growth capital from a group of international investors including US-based firm Liberty Global Inc (LGI) – which owns cable operations across Europe and Latin America; the investment marked LGI’s first cableco-related activity in Africa. Other new investors included Oppenheimer Funds and Sarona Asset Management, a Canadian emerging markets fund manager known for its ‘impact investments’. Existing Wananchi investors include leading private equity firm East Africa Capital Partners (EACP) and Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), a Pan-African private equity firm.