IFC Project Delivers Internet to 10m in Emerging Markets

Connected-Globe-Internet.jpgGlobal development organisation IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has completed its project to connect more than 10m people in 31 developing countries to affordable broadband in an effort to foster economic development.

The six-year project was undertaken with O3b Networks, a satellite operator, who built, launched and operate a medium-earth orbit satellite constellation that provides broadband connectivity in remote and landlocked nations.

The IFC helped the company close an investment gap by making a $10m (£7.6m) senior loan, providing $60m in financing and enabling an additional $170m in parallel loans by other institutions.

“Broadband internet access is vital to a countrys competitiveness and economic development,” said Atul Mehta, director of telecommunications, media, technology, venture capital and private equity funds at IFC.

“New satellite technology can bring affordable broadband to places where it is needed most, supporting all economic sectors and providing people and businesses with access to key services such as eGovernment, eCommerce, remote medicine and online education.”

Research has shown that in developing nations, a 10 percentage point increase in fixed broadband penetration can raise GDP growth by 1.38 per cent. However, in many African nations, broadband is still over 200 times more expensive than in the US and Western Europe.

O3b Networks satellites can provide high-speed internet to underserved regions at a far lower cost compared to traditional geostationary satellites. Countries that have benefited include Papua New Guinea, Magagascar, Peru, Somalia, Samoa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where over 4m people and businesses benefit from the service.