Providing Internet in Remote Areas

Patrons use computers at an internet cafe in Yemen that was assisted by a microloan from the Social Welfare Fund. © Dana Smillie / World Bank

World Bank Group research shows that developing economies’ GDP grow on average 1.38 percent for every 10 percent increase in broadband access. 

Unfortunately, extending broadband in many regions is expensive and installation of proper infrastructure can be problematic. In Africa, for example, broadband is over 200 times more expensive than in the United States.

To tackle this challenge, IFC and the African Development Bank have led a group of development institutions providing a total of $260 million to help O3b Networks Ltd. implement a satellite system that will provide affordable broadband access to landlocked and remote developing countries near the Equator.

The financing package included a $115 million senior debt facility and a $145 million mezzanine facility from several development institutions. As part of this financing, IFC provided a $10 million senior loan and $60 million in mezzanine financing for its own account.
O3b, which stands for the “other 3 billion,” refers to the nearly half of the world’s population that is not adequately served with broadband Internet access. Affordable high-speed broadband access provides people and businesses the opportunity to connect with each other, innovate, and grow their economies.

In its initial phase, O3b deployed eight satellites that circle the Equator and provide broadband services for developing countries 45 degrees latitude North and South of the Equator. The satellites serve countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and South America.