IFC, British International Investment, Proparco Partner Sonatel’s Telecoms Expansion in Senegal

(From left to right: Sékou Drame, CEO, Sonatel; Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Regional Vice President for Africa; Chris Chijiutomi, Managing Director and Head of Africa, BII) . Image Credit: Africa Practice

May 17, 2024/Africa Practice

To accelerate Senegal’s digital transformation, IFC and partners British International Investment (BII) and Proparco today announced a financing package for Sonatel to improve essential telecommunications infrastructure in the country and expand access to reliable, affordable mobile and fixed broadband services. 

The local currency equivalent €87 million, sustainability-linked loan includes €32 million from IFC, €25 million from BII, and €30 million from Proparco. The funding will help Sonatel, the largest telecom operator in Senegal, expand its telecommunications infrastructure, including towers and cables, particularly in rural areas. 

The financing will be the first sustainable linked facility (SLF) in francophone West Africa. It is designed to link the pricing of the loan to the achievement of measurable objectives, making a significant contribution to sustainable development. 

The SLF sets out ambitious goals for Sonatel in two key areas: increasing the representation of women in management positions in Senegal and expanding the reach of digital skills programs implemented by Sonatel within the country.

Sekou Dramé, CEO of Sonatel, said, “I am thrilled to underscore the significance of our partnership with IFC, British International Investment, and Proparco. Together, we spearhead a transformative journey in Senegal, driving digital innovation and fostering technological advancements that will ultimately elevate our country’s digital landscape.”

Chris Chijiutomi, Managing Director, and Head of Africa at BII, said, “Investing in the digital infrastructure space is a priority for BII given its importance to address economic growth constraints in Africa. Our investment in Sonatel will help provide quality and affordable connectivity and directly foster inclusive economic growth, particularly in rural areas. It also aligns with our goal to invest more in the Francophone West Africa region. We look forward to working with our partners to connect more people and businesses in the area digitally.”

Françoise Lombard, CEO of Proparco, said, “We are thrilled to support Sonatel’s investments in Senegal’s digital infrastructure to improve the quality of service and expand the geographical reach of the digital network in the country. While improving customer experience, investments in innovative solutions should eventually boost economic opportunities in Senegal. We are also supportive of Sonatel’s commitment to provide ambitious training program targeting entrepreneurs and start-ups as well as to push for a higher representation of women in management positions.”

Olivier Buyoya, IFC Regional Director for West Africa, said, “This partnership marks a significant milestone in Senegal’s digital development. Together with Sonatel, we are committed to delivering innovative and inclusive solutions that will have a lasting impact on Senegal’s economy and people. Our collective vision is to create a digitally enabled future where every individual has access to opportunities and resources, driving forward Senegal’s economic transformation and social progress.”

The project builds on an existing partnership between IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Sonatel. It aligns with Senegal’s ambition to develop sustainable digital infrastructure to modernize its economy. BII is the development finance institution of the UK government. Proparco is a development finance institution and a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement Group. 

IFC’s investment is supported by the International Development Association’s (IDA) Private Sector Window Local Currency Facility, which helps provide longer-term, local currency funding for high-impact projects in IDA and fragile and conflict-affected situations where local currency solutions are underdeveloped or absent.

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