IFC supports affordable satellite-based internet access for developing countries

Wednesday, 1 December 2010 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Washington D.C— IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, led a group of development institutions in providing $260 million in financing to help O3b Networks Ltd. complete a satellite system that will provide affordable broadband access to developing countries near the equator.

O3b, which stands for the “other 3 billion,” refers to the nearly half of the world’s population that is not adequately served with broad band internet access.

 Affordable high-speed broadband access provides people and businesses the opportunity to connect with each other, innovate, and grow their economies. O3b will use eight satellites that circle the equator and provide broadband services for developing countries 45 degrees latitude north and south of the equator.

The satellites will serve countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and South America that have insufficient connectivity because of geographic obstacles or the high cost of alternative means of connectivity.

“O3b is a fantastic venture that is bringing together private equity and funding from some of the world’s most important developmental institutions to connect people in developing nations to the internet,” said Mark Rigolle, CEO of O3b Networks. “We are delighted to have the support of the world’s leading developmental institutions – this underlines the importance of the job we have at hand.”

O3b will help create jobs and grow local economies by improving the availability and access to reliable and affordable communications services for consumers and businesses in emerging markets.

“Access to broadband is a country’s passport to the global information society and knowledge economy,” said Vincent Gouarne, IFC Global Head of Infrastructure and Natural Resources. “We have a long track record of investing in information and communication services in emerging markets and see this project as an important tool in improving access for people living in remote regions, landlocked countries and small island states.”

IFC played the role of co-arranger with AfDB for the development finance institutions’ $115 million senior debt facility and a $145 million mezzanine facility that included financing from DBSA, DEG, Proparco, FMO and EAIF. IFC is providing a $10 million senior loan and $60 million in mezzanine financing from its own account.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilising capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit www.ifc.org. About O3b Networks Ltd. O3b Networks is building a new fiber-quality, satellite-based, global Internet backbone for telecommunications operators (telcos) and Internet service providers (ISPs) in emerging markets. The O3b Networks system will combine global reach and the speed of a fiber-optic network. With investments and operational support from SES, Google, Liberty Global, HSBC Principal Investments, Northbridge Venture Partners, Allen & Company, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Sofina and Satya Capital, the O3bsystem will provide telcos and ISPs with a low-cost, high-speed alternative to connect their 3G, WiMAX and fixed-line networks to the rest of the world. This will allow billions of consumers and businesses in more than150 countries to benefit from high-speed Internet connectivity for educational, medical and commercial applications. O3b Networks’ headquarters is in St. John, Jersey, Channel Islands.