BlueOrchard Finance Ltd (“BlueOrchard”), a leading global impact investment manager and member of the Schroders Group, and Finnfund, the Finnish Development Finance Institution and impact investor, announced today that they will contribute to bridging the digital divide between rural and urban populations in Sub-Sahara Africa.
The BlueOrchard Sustainable Assets Fund (BOSAF) and the OP Finnfund Global Impact Fund I will provide a USD 20 million debt investment to support the growth of Africa Mobile Networks (“AMN”), a telecom provider focused on rural Sub-Saharan Africa, in bringing network services to an estimated 35 million people.
Mobile network access and connectivity are instrumental to promote financial inclusion and support the development of rural populations in emerging economies.
In numerous African countries, daily activities such as transferring money, taking and repaying credit loans, subscribing to an insurance policy, or paying school fees for their children are only conducted via mobile phones. Mobile network access and connectivity enable individuals, who previously were cut off from technologies, economic and mobile systems, to be granted first-time access to these services.
“AMN is connecting the unconnected in Sub-Saharan Africa by providing mobile network access for rural areas. We have a unique opportunity to accelerate digital inclusion in growth markets and digital infrastructure is a key driver of sustainable growth and shared prosperity. BlueOrchard is committed to seizing this opportunity and accompanying its partners and investors on this journey” said Philipp Mueller, CEO of BlueOrchard.
“AMN is a great example of an innovative digital infrastructure company”, said Finnfund’s Head of Digital Infrastructure and Solutions portfolio Jussi Ahonen. “AMN provides a solution to the markets that have not been served by the traditional business models.”
AMN aims to build 10’000 base stations in over 20 Sub-Saharan countries while serving a total population of 35 million people. AMN’s portfolio is spread across different countries, with exposure to a significant number of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) 1 such as DRC, Liberia, Congo and Guinea.
AMN has strong and substantial partnerships with global telecommunication and technology firms.
“Improving rural connectivity is a strategic priority for OP Finnfund Global Impact Fund I and the linkage between the increased mobile penetration and GDP increase is clear,” said Tuomas Virtala, Head of Asset Management at OP Corporate Bank.
“Conventional telecom tower companies are unable to serve the rural population economically due to the significant costs of erecting mobile towers in a rural context. AMN addresses this problem with an ultra-compact base station which delivers GSM voice, SMS and data service, serving most villages with a single tower. This ultra-low capex and opex is the reason why AMN can build and operate base stations profitably where others using conventional technology and processes cannot,” said Ashwin West, Head of Sustainable Infrastructure Investments at BlueOrchard.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 1.1 billion people, one seventh of the global population, 62% of which is classified as rural. It is not only the fastest growing region in the world, but also has the world’s largest population percentage that does not have mobile coverage. According to estimations, more than 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are living in villages which have no usable mobile network service today. We have set out to address this challenge.”, said Michael Darcy, CEO of AMN.
BlueOrchard Finance Ltd (BlueOrchard) is a leading impact investment manager and member of the Schroders Group. In Kenya, Blue Orchard operates from Nairobi Garage // Kilimani and has invested to date over USD 7 billion across more than 80 countries with 211 million people with low income access to financial and related services as of March 2020.
As a pioneering impact investor, the firm is dedicated to generating lasting positive impact for communities and the environment, while aiming at providing attractive returns to investors.
BlueOrchard was founded in 2001, by initiative of the UN, as the first commercial manager of microfinance debt investments worldwide.. Today, the firm offers impact investment solutions across asset classes, connecting millions of entrepreneurs in emerging and frontier markets with investors with the aim to make impact investment solutions accessible to all and to advance the conscious use of capital.
Being a professional investment manager and expert in innovative blended finance mandates, BlueOrchard has a sophisticated international investor base and is a trusted partner of leading global development finance institutions. To date, BlueOrchard has invested over USD 9bn across more than 90 countries.
About 230 million poor and vulnerable people in emerging and frontier markets received access to financial and related services with the support of BlueOrchard as of December 2021.