A new investment in an African tower specialist could boost tower building in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire – and possibly further afield.
Adenia Partners, a private equity firm investing in Africa, African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), one of Africa’s largest infrastructure-focused private equity fund managers, and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, have partnered to invest $130 million to support Eastcastle Infrastructure, a company specializing in Africa’s telecoms tower sector.
The funding aims to support Eastcastle’s build-to-suit strategy, to develop new telecom towers initially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire. The Eastcastle Infrastructure team has so far successfully structured and completed 14 African telecoms tower acquisitions and disposals.
The partners point out that the number of towers across the region needs to increase significantly to accelerate the deployment of bandwidth-intensive technologies and the quality of connectivity for individuals and businesses. Indeed, data consumption per subscriber across the continent is expected to increase fourfold by 2025, boosted by an additional 200 million new mobile internet users and growth in smartphone adoption.
They add that mobile operators using bandwidth-intensive technologies such as 3G, 4G and 5G are expected to account for more than 85 percent of connections by 2025, compared to around 38 percent in 2017. Smartphone usage is also set to rise – to 65 percent of connections in 2025, up from 44 percent today.
Explaining the strategic thinking behind the investment, Ed Stumpf, investment director at AIIM, commented: “Investment in Africa’s digital infrastructure is more important than ever to meet rising data demand and enable Africa’s digital economy. Mobile internet has the potential to add up to $180 billion to Africa’s gross domestic product by 2025 and, as such, a core part of AIIM’s strategy is to invest in businesses that address digital infrastructure bottlenecks and enable efficiency through infrastructure sharing.”