Economy · August 5, 2022

IFC invests in a local tower company to bridge the digital divide

The International Finance Corps (IFC), the private arm of the World Bank Group, has granted a loan that aims to improve mobile connectivity in the Philippines.

The loan is part of IFC’s $ 70 million funding package for Renewable Energy and Communication Infrastructure (CREI) Phils. inc

The funding package, which aims to bridge the digital divide through shared mobile infrastructure, includes a $ 25.5 million loan from IFC and a $ 44.5 million parallel facility.

“Digital connectivity is more important than ever to the success of businesses and people,” said Jean-Marc Arbogast, IFC Country Manager for the Philippines. “By supporting the entry of a new company, IFC’s investment will contribute to a strong independent tower market in the Philippines, increasing competition, creating jobs, stimulating economic growth and helping to reduce emissions.”

The IFC investment will allow CREI Phils., A new tower company in the Philippines, to finance the construction of over 600 new towers within the next year. For the first time in the country, these towers will be shared with open access.

In addition to creating a competitive market for tower placement, the loan will help increase mobile network capacity, allowing operators to expand high-speed mobile networks (4G and 5G) across the country and offer better services at rates. convenient.

According to the 2020 Global Digital Overview, the number of internet users in the Philippines more than tripled to 73 million in 2020, from 23 million in 2010. However, the country ranks 95 out of 142 countries for mobile internet download speeds. .

IFC said the number of mobile subscribers per tower, a measure of network congestion, is more than double the regional average.

According to market estimates, to close the gap, the Philippines would need a significant number of new towers built over the next seven to eight years to support the government’s network capacity requirements.

“Despite the difficult market conditions triggered by the pandemic, IFC’s long-term financing will enable us to fulfill our ambitions to expand our digital infrastructure portfolio in the Philippines,” said Kadri Hakim, CEO of CREI.

“The extensive know-how of our management team gained over 15 years of telecommunications operations in Southeast Asia and Africa, combined with IFC’s in-depth knowledge of the country’s telecommunications regulatory regime and its experience as investor in tower companies, it will allow us to effectively develop and grow our operations in the country “.

The company’s entry into the Philippine telecommunications market brings solid experience in the design, construction and operation of towers, as well as in providing energy efficient solutions that help replace and reduce the use of diesel fuel on grid-connected towers.

In line with the nation’s climate goals, this project will lead to significant greenhouse gas savings. The IFC will also help the company align its environmental and social practices with the IFC performance standards.