Modern information and communication technologies enable poor people to obtain access to services, resources, and opportunities — making markets and institutions more efficient. But half the world’s population is still offline.
The situation is particularly challenging in Africa, where only 22 percent of the population has access to the Internet. IFC and partners’ investment of up to $100 million in CSquared, a firm that promotes the use of shared infrastructure to make Internet services more affordable and reliable to underserved countries in Africa, aims to change that. After laying more than 1,600 kilometers (km) of fiber-optic cables in Ghana and Uganda, CSquared started operations in Liberia. With close to 140 km of cables already installed in the country, the network is expected to facilitate the rapid growth of both fixed and mobile broadband data in the region.
Around the world, we partner with mobile and broadband service providers to help them expand and upgrade their network infrastructure. In FY19, we invested $399 million in telecommunications, media, and technology, including funds mobilized from other investors. Our portfolio is now $2.7 billion.
In Argentina, our loan of $310 million to Telecom Argentina, which offers fixed and mobile high-speed connections and pay TV, will boost expansion of broadband coverage, including in underserved regions. The financing package — provided at a time when many Argentine companies are struggling to obtain funding to grow their operations — includes $110 million from IFC, with additional funding mobilized from international banks. This second financing follows one in 2016.
IFC’s advisory support to M-Pesa Mozambique, a mobile money platform, will increase financial inclusion in a country where nearly 60 percent of citizens lack access to financial services. Ten months after implementation, the number of active M-Pesa customers rose by nearly 70 percent. More than 1,280 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have signed on since the project was launched.
Liftit, a Latin American-based tech firm that connects truck drivers to businesses that need cargo delivered, will be able to expand operations in Mexico and Colombia after IFC’s $2.8 million equity investment. Liftit’s platform provides companies with more efficient, reliable, and affordable cargo delivery while making it easier for truck drivers to find work and be paid promptly.
IFC also helped expand the TechEmerge platform to Brazil, where it connects start-ups with leading corporations in emerging economies to form new partnerships. In Brazil, it has matched 20 tech companies from seven countries with 15 health-care providers to conduct pilot projects that include fast and noninvasive diagnostic exams and artificial intelligence solutions for genetics and imaging diagnostics. TechEmerge, a World Bank Group initiative, was launched in India in 2016 to improve health-care delivery and patient outcomes in the country.