VENTURES AFRICA – United States Government’s development finance institution, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), has approved $72 million to help bring affordable high-speed internet service, television programming and telephone service to growing, yet underserved middle class markets in East Africa.
OPIC’s direct loan will enable Wananchi Group Holdings (WGH), a Kenyan company, to extend fiber optic cable services for high-speed internet, television and voice-over internet telephonic services in Kenya. WGH will also provide pay TV programming via satellite across a broad footprint of cities and rural areas directly to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and indirectly through agents to a number of other East African countries, including Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zambia.
This is important to WGH, as it will help the company provide customers with high-quality international programming and local-based content.
For instance, WGH’s Zuku-brand channels include a learning channel for children and a regional documentary channel where both the production and on-camera presence are local. WGH also offers a health channel that is responsive to local health concerns.
Apart from this, the project is expected to generate more than 1,000 local managerial and professional and technical jobs, as well as downstream jobs for third-party dealers, installers, and marketers.
According to OPIC’s President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield, “Delivering state-of-the art internet service and television programming with improved local content to urbanizing East African markets at affordable prices is an important step forward for the region’s growing middle class. We are pleased by the opportunity to support a technological upgrade that provides so many developmental benefits across so many African markets.”
Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution that mobilises private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. It operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers.