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IFC partners SA tech firm to boost digital infrastructure on the African continent

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has partnered with South Africa’s Liquid Intelligent Technologies to expand data centre capacity and roll out fibre-optic cable on the continent, the groups has said.

The link-up with Liquid Intelligent Technologies, formally Liquid Telecom, aims to increase digital connectivity in Africa and to support the region’s growing digital ecosystem.

The investment in data centres underscores the rising demand for cloud services even in relatively undeveloped corners of the continent.

US tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon are competing with Chinese telecom firm Huawei to set up massive data centres on the continent as demand for cloud connectivity soars as companies save huge costs by renting storage space than building their own servers.

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IFC’s equity and debt investments in Liquid, which totals about $250 million, would support the company to grow its hyper-scale data centre capacity in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa through its subsidiary, Africa Data Centres, the partners said.

”As Africa’s population grows and is increasingly urbanised, data consumption is expected to grow strongly and with this comes the need for secure local data hosting,” they added.

The investments will also support the continued roll out of Liquid’s fibre broadband network, which covers more than 100 000km of sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development, sub-Saharan Africa needs around $100 billion in investment to achieve affordable and high-quality broadband access by 2030. It would need at least 250,000km of new fibre lines to achieve this.

The IFC’s latest investment in Liquid follows its investment in the company in February 2021 through Liquid’s bond placement on Euronext Dublin, Ireland’s main stock exchange. The issuance raised $620 million.

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