CSquared raises US$25mn in new equity investment

CSquared CEO, Lanre Kolade

…to continue building carrier neutral broadband networks and digitally connect Africa

CSquared Link Holdings (Mauritius) Limited, a pan-African technology company committed to digitally connecting Africa by making impactful investments in telecommunications infrastructure throughout the region, has successfully raised US$25million in new equity investment from both new and existing shareholders to finance its ambitious growth objectives.

The capital raising by CSquared from CPDIF, IFC – International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association’s (IDA) Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility seeks to accelerate the expansion of its carrier-neutral, open-access broadband infrastructure, CSquared today announces new equity investment.

This is the first tranche in a broader US$65million investment programme to finance CSquared’s expansion and growth. Additionally, CPDIF has simultaneously acquired the stake in CSquared held by Google LLC.

The new investment into the company will be used for network expansion as CSquared continues to drive digital infrastructure developments across its footprint and the broader African region. The well-established developmental impact of such investments is a cornerstone of CSquared’s vision and that of its shareholders. This vision is to facilitate job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship and other developmental objectives which are enhanced by the uptake of Internet access and digitalisation of the economy.

CSquared was launched as a project within Google in 2011, with the ambition of building metropolitan fibre-optic networks in sub-Saharan Africa as a carrier-neutral operator of shared infrastructure. The long-term vision for the company is to increase Internet penetration in sub-Saharan Africa and reduce Internet access costs by investing in infrastructure necessary to drive digital transformation in the region.

In October 2017, in order to accelerate the business’s scope and scale, additional investors – namely Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Convergence Partners Communication Infrastructure Fund and IFC – came onboard to deepen existing market penetration and expand geographically as the partners looked to commercialise the company. Under the guidance of its shareholders, the company has successfully established operations in six markets across the continent: namely Uganda, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo.

In addition, CSquared’s collaboration with Google in Togo was critical to delivering the first continental landing of the Equiano cable in Africa during March 2022, significantly transforming the affordability and availability of Internet access in this previously underserved market.

Commenting on the transactions, Lanre Kolade, CSquared Group Chief Executive Officer, shared that he remains enthusiastic about the company’s future and its role in directly tackling the continent’s digital transformation challenge. He states: “CSquared has demonstrated a proven track record in developing and commercialising carrier-neutral, open-access networks across Africa.

“We remain singularly focused on changing lives through digitalisation of the region and providing #InternetForAll.   The support from our investors, both existing and new, will transform our ability to deliver on this ambition. This involves expanding the digital broadband infrastructure footprint in all our current markets – Uganda, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, DRC & Togo, as well as expanding into new markets in the near-future.  Now more than ever, the future is here #ADigitallyConnectedAfrica.”

Andile Ngcaba, Chairman and Founding Partner-Convergence Partners added: “The opportunity to increase our investment in CSquared via our most recently raised funds comes at a pivotal time for African digital development.  The benefits of world-class connectivity span all layers of society and have never been more tangible.

“As investors in the company since 2017, we have had a front-row view of the tremendous impact from open-access networks on development of the African ICT ecosystem. The combination of developmental impact, as well as strong commercial returns, makes this an attractive investment for CPDIF; and we are delighted with being able to shape the next phase of this journey.”

Commenting on its investment in CSquared, Sarvesh Suri – IFC’s Regional Industry Director for Infrastructure, Africa said: “Broadband connectivity is critical for Africa’s development. Our investment in CSquared is aligned with our regional strategy to develop digital infrastructure and promote the digital economy, which can help leapfrog development for many African countries, support economic growth and stimulate job creation”.

FTI Capital Advisors DIFC Limited (FTICA) acted as financial advisor to CSquared on the capital raise and concurrent sale of the stake in CSquared held by Google LLC.

CSquared is a technology company, committed to a digitally-connected Africa by making impactful investments into open-access broadband-enabling infrastructure throughout Africa. While a basic connection is useful when it comes to Internet access, abundant, affordable broadband can transform communities and help people make the most of opportunities online.  By investing in open-access broadband infrastructure and making it available to local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile network operators (MNOs), CSquared helps bring high-quality broadband access across Africa.

Convergence Partners is a leading private equity investment manager focused on the technology sector in sub-Saharan Africa, with a 20-year history of investing successfully in the region’s digital infrastructure. With more than US$600million under management – including the recently launched Convergence Partners Digital Infrastructure Fund, which is focused on long-term investments in data centres, fibre networks, wireless and towers, edge, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Thing (IoT), cloud and fintech and platforms across the continent – Convergence Partners’ team is located at offices in South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, France and soon Kenya.

IFC – a member of the World Bank Group – is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2023, IFC committed a record US$43.7billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the private sector’s power to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of global compounding crises.

The International Development Association’s (IDA) Private Sector Window was launched in 2017 to catalyse private sector investment in the poorest and most fragile countries. Recognising the private sector’s key role in achieving IDA objectives and the World Bank Group’s twin goals, the window provides a source of co-investment funding and guarantees to de-risk private investments supported by IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The IDA PSW is an option when there is no commercial solution, and the World Bank Group’s other tools and approaches are insufficient.

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