Washington, D.C., November 29, 2010—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 broadband
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
“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 mobilizing 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 $18 billion
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 O3b system 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 than 150 countries to benefit from high-speed Internet connectivity
for educational, medical and commercial applications. O3b Networks’ headquarters
is in St. John, Jersey, Channel Islands.