Independent African private equity fund manager, Metier, announced that it had led an investment round of USD 36 million into Africa Mobile Networks (AMN), a company focused on bringing connectivity to the most underserved communities on the most underserved continent on Earth. This investment will bring connectivity to millions of rural Africans, giving them access to healthcare, education, financial services and generally improving their quality of life.
The Metier-led consortium funding AMN includes the CDC Group Plc (the development finance institution owned by the UK government), DEG (Germany’s development finance institution), Proparco (the private sector arm of the French development agency), and leading financial institutions and investment managers.
It’s the first time that private equity funding has been invested to uniquely support connectivity in rural Africa — a big vote of confidence in not only AMN and its business model but also the opportunities that exist to generate economic growth in rural Africa by improving connectivity.
With most Africans residing outside of cities, investments such as this are crucial to driving growth in Africa. For example, an ITU study estimated that while in the rest of the world, a 10% increase in the penetration of mobile broadband services would result in a 1.5% increase in GDP, a similar increase in Africa would result in a 2.5% increase.
Intelsat entered into a partnership with AMN in 2018 to help the company accelerate its deployment of mobile connectivity to unserved and underserved communities across Africa. As a result, by the end of 2019, more than 500 remote sites in Africa had AMN’s affordable, solar-powered mobile connectivity solution — powered by more than two dozen Intelsat satellites positioned over the continent. In 2020, AMN and Intelsat celebrated the significant milestone of bringing connectivity access to 1,000 sites and more than 3.5 million people across the continent.
Today, AMN operates 2,000 mobile network base stations in rural towns and villages spanning ten countries, serving about seven million previously unconnected people and processing an average of 1.2 billion phone calls a year. The proceeds of the new growth equity from the Metier-led consortium will be used to help AMN expand its reach to more than 5,000 towers across more than 15 countries by the end of 2023.
“This is a very significant and important investment for those of us who believe in a connected Africa,” said Jean-Philippe Gillet, general manager of Intelsat’s networks business. “It shows that there are investment-grade opportunities in connecting the underserved. We also see it as a huge vote of confidence in AMN, their solutions, business model, and management. We are very excited to be their partner.”
AMN builds and operates mobile network base stations in partnership with tier one licensed mobile network operators (MNOs), such as MTN and Orange, to extend their rural coverage. AMN’s full turnkey network-as-a-service (NaaS) solution enables MNOs in sub-Saharan Africa to expand their coverage deep into rural areas — with no capital expenditures or operating equipment risks.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the most challenging regions in the world to connect because of its geographic complexities and the number of remote communities. However, AMN’s innovative mobile solution, coupled with the strength and scale of Intelsat’s satellite network, helps to overcome these obstacles.