The World Bank's private investment arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has announced plans to invest in Safaricom Ethiopia.
It said this week that it planned to provide up to US$160 million in equity to the company to help fund its capital expenditure.
This is more good news for Safaricom Ethiopia, which finally began a phased city-by-city customer network pilot earlier this month in Dire Dawa city and Haramaya after a delay to the original launch date of April. Safaricom Ethiopia plans to have its network up and running in 25 Ethiopian cities by April 2023.
According to Reuters, an IFC statement said: “The proposed IFC transaction comprises an up to $160-million equity investment in the Company to help fund ... capex requirement. A separate debt package is also being discussed."
Safaricom led a consortium that secured Ethiopia's second operator licence in May 2021 for $850 million. We reported in May that Safaricom had plans to raise up to $2 billion from local banks and development finance institutions over the next five years to fund the venture. In July the company said that it had invested US$1 billion, including a licence fee and imported equipment worth over $300 million.
Safaricom is the second operator to enter the Ethiopian market and the first private operator to launch there. Attempts to sell a second private licence were put on hold in January, leaving this a two-operator market, dominated, for now, by Ethio Telecom. In March plans to sell part of Ethio Telecom were postponed due to macroeconomic changes domestically and globally.