Helios Towers DRC

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Helios Towers DRC started to operate in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010 with the aim to purchase, modernize, expand and operate a portfolio of telecommunication towers. The DRC is one of the largest African markets with among the lowest telecom penetration rates in Africa.

In 2013, HTD managed 741 telecom towers. It is the only independent telecom towers company in DRC and is seeing significant demand for both co-location of receiver equipment on its existing towers and for the construction of new Build-to-Suit towers.

BIO is participating in the German development bank’s (DEG) loan facility of USD 40 million to finance the continued upgrade and expansion of its tower portfolio in DRC over the next 2 years. Approx. 185 of the 342 new developed operational sites are forecasted to be in rural communities.

DRC is one of the largest African countries by size and population and disposes of an extremely poor infrastructure even in an African context. Infrastructure, particularly transport and telecommunications, remains a key area which requires substantial investments to drive future development of the country’s economy.

BIO provides a medium-term hard currency loan, which the private financial markets do not offer on adequate terms and conditions. Since commercial banks are reluctant to finance long-term investment in the DRC, BIO’s financing is of significant value added to the country. Furthermore, BIO’s experience in investments in DRC are an important added value to DEG, who has arranged the loan.

In 2015, BIO approved a second loan of USD 6 million for expansion purposes. The expansion is indispensable to provide access to affordable telecom services in rural and remote areas.

Website : www.heliostowersafrica.com

  • Investment amount (€):

    €14,961K

  • Contract signature :

    2013, 2015

  • Nature of intervention :

    Senior loan

  • Development impacts :

    • 1 — Expand mobile telephony access: With the construction of additional tower sites, existing mobile operators will be able to expand the reach of their services both in terms of geography and capacity.
    • 2 — Project contributes to rural development: HTD contributes to rural development, because approx. 185 of the 342 new sites are forecasted to be in rural communities.
    • 3 — Increase competition: The presence of HTD will allow smaller and newer wireless operators to benefit from reduced barriers to entry as they will have access to leased tower facilities rather than having to build their own.
    • 4 — Fosters mobile banking: Tower building indirectly fosters mobile banking and thus contributes to financial inclusion of the BoP; KfW and BIO are engaged in promoting mobile banking in DRC through MFI and thus HTD Facility contributes to the integration of developmental activities;
    • 5 — Expand access to other ICT technologies: HTD will be building a tower network that is capable of supporting not only mobile cellular networks, but also wireless broadband and backhaul networks, thereby improving the penetration of these technologies.
    • 6 — Contribute to mitigating environmental impact and Climate Change: The underlying projects developed by the company will provide a cost effective opportunity to telecommunication operators to reduce their carbon emission footprint by sharing infrastructure. A significant benefit of sharing tower infrastructure arises from the material, energy and emissions savings that ensue from building only one tower instead of three or four.
    • 7 — Generate government revenues: HTD will be a strong generator of profits and pay in average approx. USD 6.3 m yearly in income tax in the coming 5 years.
    • 8 — Create jobs: both direct jobs within HTD and indirect jobs in the sales points.