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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced a loan to the West Indian Ocean Cable Company Ltd (WIOCC) to help the telecoms infrastructure provider expand and improve affordable internet connectivity as it serves over 30 countries in Africa.

According to a report by IFC, about 22 percent of Africa’s population has access to an internet connection, the lowest of any region in the world. The African Union, with support from the World Bank Group, has set the goal of connecting every individual, business, and government on the continent by 2030.

IFC’s partnership with WIOCC is a step toward helping address the connectivity gap in Africa. WIOCC, a private company jointly owned by 14 African telecommunication operators, makes strategic investments in digital infrastructure to support reliable and scalable connectivity in Africa.     

The $20 million loan is part of IFC’s global $8 billion fast-track COVID-19 response facility, to help sustain economies and preserve jobs during the pandemic.

IFC’s support will help WIOCC upgrade subsea capacity, including the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), and roll out terrestrial fiber optic networks across the region.

EASSy is an undersea fiber optic cable system connecting countries in Eastern Africa to the rest of the world. “Pursuing our expansion will allow our company to leverage the opportunities created by the increasing demand for online services during the present crisis. It is also a demonstration of our dynamic partnership with IFC,” explained Chris Wood, WIOCC CEO.

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