11 December 2018

CDC backs Liquid Telecom with US$180 million investment

CDC backs Liquid Telecom with US$180 million investment

CDC, the UK’s development finance institution, has today announced a US$180m equity investment in Liquid Telecom the largest independent fibre and cloud provider in Africa.

CDC’s investment will enable Liquid Telecom to expand broadband connectivity to some of the most underserved markets across Africa and will support the continent’s thriving tech start-up ecosystem with high-speed internet and cloud-based services.

Digital infrastructure remains a major problem for Africa’s governments, people and its businesses. Improving access to affordable and quality internet is central to Africa’s development and economic growth, and a key part of UN Sustainable Development Goal 9.

Liquid Telecom has built Africa’s largest independent fibre network, approaching 70,000km, across 13 countries.  It also operates state-of-the-art data centres and is a leading provider of cloud-based services across Africa. CDC’s investment will enable Liquid to for the first time connect Cape Town to Cairo, and to expand in Central and Western Africa, including some markets which lack affordable and reliable broadband today like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan.

This is CDC’s first direct investment in an African telecoms company in over twenty years and its largest single investment since it acquired the pan-African power company, Globeleq in early 2015. CDC and Liquid Telecom will work together to create a double impact from the investment:

  • Expanded fibre infrastructure that improves access, quality and affordability for mobile broadband services. This will lower the cost of data and increase mobile broadband availability in countries like the DRC which had internet penetration of only 6% in 2016. The World Bank estimates that a 10 per cent growth in population connected to the internet leads to GDP growth of 1.38 per cent.
  • Expanded networks within countries to improve access and quality of fixed broadband for business customers. By raising the productivity of existing activities and streamlining business systems, improved fixed broadband increases economic efficiency across firms and workers. World Bank data from 2016 show that African firms using the internet have 3.7 times higher labour productivity than non-users.

Nick O’Donohoe, CDC’s Chief Executive said:

“Digital infrastructure is still a major problem for Africa’s governments, people and its businesses, so improving access to affordable and quality internet is central to Africa’s development and economic growth. Our investment in Liquid Telecom – which is one of CDC’s biggest ever investments – plays an important part in addressing infrastructure bottlenecks and helps bring about the innovation and efficiency gains that result from better internet access. CDC’s capital will enable Liquid Telecom to reach more countries in the continent, helping to connect millions more people and businesses. Africans have benefited hugely from the local mobile phone industry that CDC backed twenty years ago, and we have similar hopes for our investments in Africa’s growing digital infrastructure.”

Nic Rudnick, Group CEO, Liquid Telecom, added:

“Our vision is to give every individual on the African continent the right to be connected by bringing reliable, high-speed broadband connectivity and cloud services to all. This includes businesses and communities in some of the most remote parts of the continent,” said “We welcome CDC Group’s investment of $180m with Liquid Telecom since it will enable us to accelerate expansion along our award-winning Cape-to-Cairo route and further into Central and Western Africa. Once completed, it will bring significant economic and social benefits – from providing access to online educational resources to supporting national economies, creating more jobs and driving the adoption of new technologies. This is aligned to the vision of our Executive Chairman Strive Masiyiwa to not only connect Africa from North to South, but also from East to West.”

Liquid Telecom serves mobile operators, carriers, businesses, media and content companies and retail customers with high-speed, reliable connectivity, hosting and co-location and digital services. It has built Africa’s largest independent fibre network and operates state-of-the-art data centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi. This is in addition to offering leading cloud-based services, such as Microsoft Office365, Microsoft Azure and innovative digital content provision including Netflix and Kwesé TV across its fibre network.

Media Contact:

Rhyddid Carter +44 (0)20 7963 4741 or +44 (0)7824 552 326 (rcarter@cdcgroup.com)