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Airtel secures $194 mln 8-year facility from IFC to support operations in 8 African nations

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By Samuel Bankole

Airtel Africa on Tuesday said it has signed a new $194 million facility with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as part of its strategy to increase debt within its operating companies.

In a regulatory filing with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), the telecom firm said the facility has a tenor of eight years and will be deployed to support its African operations and investment in six countries in the continent.

“The facility has a tenor of eight years and will be used to support Airtel Africa’s operations and investments in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo and Zambia, providing a more diversified access to local funding.

“As part of IFC’s loan facility, Airtel Africa has committed to comply with the applicable requirements of IFC Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability and has put in place a dedicated Environmental and Social Action plan.

“This will further underpin the Group’s commitment to transforming lives across the communities in which Airtel operates and provide clarity on how the Group can help address inequality and support economic growth in these communities,” the company said in the regulatory communication.

Airtel Africa’s sustainability strategy was launched in October 2021 and set out the Group’s ambitious sustainability targets and long-term goals.

The Group’s sustainability targets are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals and are designed to deliver a real and positive impact.

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Airtel Africa’s inaugural Sustainability Report was published in October 2022, detailing the Group’s performance to date and the progress being made toward achieving the set targets and goals.

Speaking on the facility, Airtel chief executive officer, Olusegun Ogunsanya said: “I am very excited to announce the signing of this new facility with IFC. Not only does it align with our focus on improving our balance sheet through localising debt within our OpCos, but as we make progress on our sustainability journey it also supports our commitments and ability to meet strong ESG criteria.

“I look forward to working closely with IFC in the coming years as we explore further opportunities to support the economies and communities where we operate.”

Also, the IFC Vice President for Africa, Sérgio Pimenta said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has made mobile connectivity even more urgent for both social and economic development. Helping more people connect to affordable and fast internet networks is a priority for IFC in Africa, especially in the continent’s lower-income countries.

“The partnership with Airtel Africa will help achieve this.” IFC’s loan is supported by co-financing from institutional investors through IFC’s Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP).

“IFC’s loan in Zambia is supported by the Local Currency Facility of the International Development Association’s (IDA) Private Sector Window.

“IFC’s digital strategy in Africa is aimed at enabling ubiquitous, reliable, and affordable connectivity.

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