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Nigeria, IHS bond issue

Supporting a corporate bond issue to deliver improved access to telecoms

Context

With 83 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, Nigeria ranks 9th in the world for mobile phone penetration, however charges are high and existing tower infrastructure is insufficient to secure reliable service, particularly in rural and remote areas. Acknowledging the need to address network challenges, the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) Strategic Management Plan 2014 - 2018 sets out its ambition to provide universal access through a market-driven communications industry. 

Project

Investment in telecoms tower infrastructure is key to expanding access to mobile telecommunications and broadband in Nigeria. However, the sums required are substantial and adverse macroeconomic and security conditions make it difficult for corporates with operations in Nigeria to raise funding from local and international banks, and from international capital markets. EAIF was approached by IHS Nigeria to support its plan to substantially expand its network of telecoms towers. The tower company enables multiple mobile phone and internet providers to share its towers, stimulating competition between operators, lowering the costs of delivering services and keeping prices affordable for consumers. 

IHS Nigeria was keen to access international capital markets for the first time through the issuance of an $800m, five-year corporate bond. EAIF and the International Finance Corporation acted as joint anchor investors. EAIF invested $50m in the issue. Its role as an anchor investor and its status as an Africa-specific specialist fund helped attract African and international capital and ensured a successful conclusion to the bond issue.

Impact

‘This is the largest high yield corporate bond ever issued out of Africa – a substantial accomplishment during a time of complex macroeconomic conditions.’ Christopher Moore, Publisher and CEO, EMEA Finance Magazine

With appropriate finance in place, IHS will be able to expand its network of telecoms towers, delivering new and improved access to telecommunications for up to 3.2m people across Nigeria. Affordable, reliable telecoms and internet will underpin the growth of small and medium enterprises as well as offering Nigerian individuals and businesses access to the wider digital economy and services such as mobile banking.  Construction of new towers for lease by telephone and internet providers is expected to create 578 short term jobs, with 6,400 permanent posts providing a significant boost to the country’s economy. 

EAIF’s support was a key enabler, developing the expertise of legal and financial professionals involved in the bond issue and allowing a growing Africa-centric corporation to access international capital markets for the first time. This approach has potential for replication across sub-Saharan Africa, enabling issuers to tap into international markets to secure the finance required to deliver vital infrastructure projects.