By Adedapo Adesanya
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced a loan to the tune of $194 million to Airtel Africa to help connect millions of new subscribers to mobile internet in six African countries.
This will help to support universal and affordable broadband access in Africa and the opportunities that come with increased connectivity.
IFC will provide six of Airtel Africa’s subsidiaries with local currency loans totalling $194 million. The new financing facility is in line with Airtel’s Africa strategy to increase debt within its operating companies.
According to data from GSMA, less than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s population had access to mobile services at the end of 2021, while only 28 per cent of the population had access to mobile internet. GSMA also estimates that by 2025, the value added by mobile technology and services is expected to reach almost $155 billion annually.
The financing facility has a tenor of eight years and will support Airtel Africa’s operations and investments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo and Zambia, where the banking landscape and access to local funding remain largely underdeveloped.
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.
Speaking on this, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, Airtel Africa CEO, said, “I am very excited to announce the signing of this new facility with IFC. Not only does this facility align with our focus on improving our balance sheet through localising debt within our operating companies, but it also supports our commitment and our ability to meet very strict ESG criteria in demonstration of the continued execution of our sustainability journey.
“I look forward to working closely with IFC in the coming years and to exploring further opportunities to cooperate together to support the economies and communities where we operate,” he said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic 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,” said Mr Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for Africa.
IFC’s digital strategy in Africa aims to enable ubiquitous, reliable, and affordable connectivity. This includes investing in the growth of independent tower operators, data centres and broadband, as well as supporting mobile operators primarily in fragile and conflict situations (FCS) and Low-income International Development Association countries (LIC-IDA).
As part of IFC’s loan facility, Airtel Africa has committed to comply with the applicable requirements of IFC’s Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability and has put in place a dedicated Environmental and Social Action plan.
This will further strengthen the company’s commitment to transforming lives across the communities in which Airtel operates and will provide clarity on how Airtel can help address inequality and support economic growth across Africa.
There Are People in the Villa Who Want APC to Lose 2023 Elections—El-Rufai
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, has disclosed that some persons in the corridors of power are working to weaken the chances of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in this year’s general elections.
On February 25, 2023, Nigerians will head to the polls to elect a new president and members of the National Assembly, and on March 11, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct the governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
While speaking recently in Ogun State, the candidate of the APC in the presidential exercise, Mr Bola Tinubu, claimed that some powers that be were plotting to ensure that he does not win the presidential poll.
According to him, these people in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari are behind the current scarcity of premium motor spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol, and the scarcity of new Naira notes, which has affected many businesses in the country.
“They are full of mischief, they could say there is no fuel. They have been scheming to create a fuel crisis but forget about it. Relax, I, Asiwaju, have told you that the issue of fuel supply will be permanently addressed,” he said at the campaign rally,” Mr Tinubu said at the campaign rally in Abeokuta recently.
“Let them increase the price of fuel, let them continue to hoard fuel, only them know where they have hoarded fuel, they hoarded money, they hoarded naira; we will go and vote, and we will win even if they changed the ink on Naira notes. Whatever their plans, it will come to nought,” he added.
Speaking on Wednesday on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, which was monitored by Business Post, Governor El-Rufai agreed with Mr Tinubu that some people in power were making efforts to contribute to the downfall of the APC at the polls this month, saying some of the policies of the federal government led by the APC were anti-people.
“Nigerians should know that these policies are not policies of our party but some economists who are bent on making sure that we lose the election. Policies purposely designed to crash the political process,” Mr El-Rufai stated.
He further said, “I believe that there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the elections because they didn’t get their way. They had their candidates but did not win the [presidential] primaries. They are still trying to get us to lose the elections and are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right.”
Google Unveils Startups Accelerator for African Women Founders
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
An initiative aimed at empowering and supporting women founders in Africa has been launched by Google. It is called Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders Africa Program.
It is an extension of the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa program established in 2017, reflecting Google’s dedication to supporting startups and addressing the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Africa.
Through the programme, African women entrepreneurs will receive resources and opportunities to scale their startups and address African problems.
Intending participants can apply via g.co/acceleratorafrica before the February 20, 2023, deadline. Eligible applicants must have a working product or service, a viable business model, and a working team. The application process includes a written application and an interview with the program team.
The 12-week program will commence in March 2023 and include one bootcamp per month, held in a hybrid style of online and in-person sessions. Selected participants will receive access to Google’s products, mentoring from industry experts, resources, tools, and technology, as well as networking opportunities and connections with investors to support the growth of their startups.
“We are excited about the open call for applications for our 3-month accelerator program, specifically tailored to address the unique challenges faced by women founders in Africa. We believe that investing in women founders in Africa is critical for economic empowerment that will enable the creation of jobs for the growing African youth population,” says Folarin Aiyegbusi, head of Startup Ecosystem, Africa at Google.
African female founders face challenges in their entrepreneurial pursuits, including limited access to funding. Despite these challenges, women make up a significant portion of African entrepreneurs, with 58 per cent of African businesses owned by women.
“Elevating the participation and leadership of women in the entrepreneurship ecosystem is crucial for promoting gender equality and driving economic growth in Africa. Investing in women-led startups is a key step towards achieving this goal, and Google’s commitment to these goals is reflected in the launch of the Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders Africa Program,” added Aiyegbusi.
The Women Founders will be mentored by industry experts who will guide and support the selected participants throughout the program. They will be instrumental in helping startups achieve their full potential and positively impact their communities.
Akua Nyame-Mensah, a mentor for the program, said, “It’s an honour to be a mentor in the inaugural Google for Startups Accelerator Program for Women Founders. As part of supporting the next generation of leaders in Africa, this program offers women an opportunity to grow their networks and the accountability to achieve their professional goals. The focus on mentorship will be invaluable. Participants will benefit and grow from the exchange of ideas and experiences.”
Egbin Power Renovates Ijede Police Station
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Egbin Power Plc has been commended for rehabilitating the Ijede Police Station in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State through and Sahara Foundation.
The facility was renovated to boost security in Ijede, Egbin and Ipakan communities. The project was commissioned on Thursday, January 26, 2023, with representatives from the Nigeria Police Force, Egbin Power, Sahara Foundation, and stakeholders from the communities in attendance.
“We express deep appreciation to Egbin Power and Sahara Group for this beautifully renovated project. We want to assure them that what they have done today will be properly maintained, and we extend our hands of fellowship to them and the people of these communities.
“I want to reassure them that we will continue to render better security to the communities,” the Lagos State Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of Administration, Mr Ewah Bassey, commented.
He further stated that the project would go a long way in boosting the morale of the officers at the station and supporting the police officers’ efforts towards promoting peace and security in the community.
While commending the firms, the Area Commander, Area ‘N’ Ijede Division, ACP S. K. Bawa, noted that the renovation project carried out by Egbin Power Plc, and Sahara Foundation was a noteworthy initiative, which would further boost security in the communities and improve the welfare of officers in the police station.
Similarly, the Obateru of Egbin Kingdom, Oba Adeoriyomi Oyebo, applauded Sahara Foundation and Egbin for enhancing security in the communities through the intervention.
“From the project we have just commissioned, I want to commend the efforts of the management of Egbin Power and Sahara Foundation. This is the kind of cooperation that exists between the organizations, the communities, and the police.
“I want to urge the police, especially at the divisional level here at Ijede, to make good use of the laudable project and make sure that the project is sustained and maintained,” the monarch said.
In his remarks, the chief executive of Egbin Power, Mr Mokhtar Bounour, explained that the company, through Sahara Foundation, has further demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by making an impact in the lives of people and adding value to communities where the organizations operate.
He disclosed that the project was part of Egbin Power’s commitment to enhancing infrastructure development, socio-economic growth, and effective policing to promote safety and security in the company’s host communities.
“This initiative is part of our strategy at Egbin Power Plc to be closer to the communities where we operate. The police are a vital part of our stakeholders in society, and we appreciate the effort and resources they apply to deliver adequate security to protect lives and property. We also know they are doing their best to keep people and property safe in our communities.
“So, through projects of this nature, we will continue to demonstrate our encouragement and support for them in discharging their duties and making a difference,” he said.
In her remarks, the Director for Governance & Sustainability at Sahara Group, Ms Ejiro Gray, said, “the intention of this initiative is to ensure that our Police officers who risk their lives every day and night to secure lives and property in our communities are able to perform their duties in a conducive atmosphere and with the right infrastructure and facilities.
“So, this is one of the ways we are contributing our quota to that agenda of promoting access to energy, a sustainable environment by transforming lives and livelihood at Sahara Foundation, Sahara Group and by extension Egbin Power Plc.
“We cannot talk about making an impact without providing adequate security of lives and property, which is a core component of the wellbeing of every society and community.”
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