The board of directors of the US government’s development finance institution Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), has confirmed that it has approved USD72 million in financing to Kenya’s Wananchi Group Holdings (WGH) to help the company extend high speed broadband services in East Africa. The OPIC loan will allow Wananchi, which offers triple-play TV, telephony and broadband internet services over a hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network under the ‘Zuku’ brand, to roll out infrastructure in countries such as Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zambia. OPIC president and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield commented: ‘Delivering state-of-the art internet service and television programming with improved local content to urbanising East African markets at affordable prices is an important step forward for the region’s growing middle class. We are pleased by the opportunity to support a technological upgrade that provides so many developmental benefits across so many African markets.’
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. More recently, in December 2011 Wananchi confirmed that it intended to raise KES8.9 billion (USD97.9 million) in 2012 to fund its rollout of triple-play services across East Africa, although the company was not willing to divulge the identities of the financial entities that it had entered into dialogue with at that time.