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Congo-Brazzaville, Helios Towers Telecoms

Securing finance to deliver reliable telecoms for homes and businesses

Congo Brazzaville Helios Towers

Context
In Congo-Brazzaville mobile phone penetration is substantially lower than the average for sub-Saharan Africa, and service is unreliable. A lack of telecoms infrastructure constrains economic development by limiting the access of business, public services and customers to the digital economy. Private sector appetite for direct investment in sub-Saharan telecoms has increased in recent years, however Congo-Brazzaville has suffered from a reluctance to invest in fragile and conflict affected states.

Project
Helios Towers Congo Brazzaville (HTC), a subsidiary of a leading pan-African tower operator HTA, approached EAIF to support crucial financing for its work in the country. EAIF provided a US$7m long-term loan to the project, enabling the company to secure the US$85.2m required to acquire and upgrade 408 existing towers and to construct 75 new towers. HTC employs a proven tower-sharing strategy, leasing tower capacity to multiple mobile phone and internet providers. EAIF’s existing relationship with HTA and its experience of delivering telecoms in sub-Saharan Africa was instrumental in engaging DFIs and private sector investors to deliver the project.

Impact
Around 686,000 people in Congo-Brazzaville will benefit from new and improved access to reliable mobile phone and internet connections, expanding connectivity for business, public services and consumers. The majority of the 75 new towers will be built in rural and remote areas. Leasing tower capacity cuts upfront costs for providers, encouraging new and smaller companies to enter the market which increases competition and drives down prices for customers. Building one tower where previously three or four may have been built generates savings on the materials and emissions involved in tower construction. By continuing to own, operate and lease the towers, HTC will ensure that they are maintained to high standards. In the long-term, establishing advanced telecoms infrastructure will be crucial to developing Congo-Brazzaville’s financial services sector to provide capital for local investment, bringing higher levels of financial security.