Andile Ngcaba’s CSquared raises R467m

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 14 Nov 2023
Andile Ngcaba, chairman and founding partner of Convergence Partners.
Andile Ngcaba, chairman and founding partner of Convergence Partners.

Businessman Andile Ngcaba’s CSquared today announced an equity investment from new and existing shareholders to finance its growth objectives.

The company has raised $25 million (R467 million) in new equity from CPDIF, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility.

According to the company, this is the first tranche in a broader $65 million (R1.2 billion) investment programme to finance CSquared’s expansion and growth.

CSquared is a Pan-African technology company committed to digitally connecting Africa by making impactful investments in telecommunications infrastructure throughout the region.

The firm wants to use the investment to accelerate the expansion of its carrier-neutral, open-access broadband infrastructure.

CPDIF has simultaneously acquired the stake in CSquared held by Google.

In a statement, the firm says the new investment will be used for network expansion, as CSquared continues to drive digital infrastructure developments across its footprint and the broader African region.

“The well-established developmental impact of such investments is a cornerstone of CSquared’s vision and that of its shareholders,” says the company. “Such vision is to facilitate job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship and other developmental objectives which are enhanced by the uptake of internet access and digitalisation of the economy.”

CSquared was launched as a project within Google in 2011, with the ambition of building metropolitan fibre-optic networks in Sub-Saharan Africa as a carrier-neutral operator of shared infrastructure.

The long-term vision is to increase internet penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa and reduce internet access costs by investing in infrastructure necessary to drive digital transformation in the region.

In October 2017, in order to accelerate the scope and scale of the business, additional investors − Mitsui, Convergence Partners Communication Infrastructure Fund and IFC − came onboard to deepen existing market penetration and expand geographically as the partners looked to commercialise the company.

Under the guidance of its shareholders, it has established operations in six markets across the continent: Uganda, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo.

In addition, CSquared’s collaboration with Google in Togo was critical to delivering the first continental landing of the Equiano cable in Africa in March 2022, transforming the affordability and availability of internet access in this previously under-served market, says the firm.

Lanre Kolade, CSquared group CEO, says he remains enthusiastic about the company’s future and its role in directly tackling the continent’s digital transformation challenge.

“CSquared has demonstrated a proven track record in developing and commercialising carrier-neutral, open-access networks across Africa,” he says.

“We remain singularly focused on changing lives through the digitalisation of the region and providing internet for all. The support from our investors, both existing and new, will transform our ability to deliver on this ambition.

“This involves expanding the digital broadband infrastructure footprint in all our current markets, as well as expanding into new markets in the near future.”

Ngcaba, chairman and founding partner of Convergence Partners, adds: “The opportunity to increase our investment in CSquared via our most recently raised fund comes at a pivotal time for African digital development.

“The benefits of world-class connectivity span all layers of society and have never been more tangible. As investors in the company since 2017, we have had a front-row view of the tremendous impact of open-access networks on the development of the African ICT ecosystem.

“The combination of developmental impact, as well as strong commercial returns, makes this an attractive investment for CPDIF and we are delighted to be able to shape the next phase of this journey.”

Sarvesh Suri, IFC regional industry director for infrastructure, Africa, says: “Broadband connectivity is critical for Africa's development. Our investment in CSquared is aligned with our regional strategy to develop digital infrastructure and promote the digital economy which can help leapfrog development for many African countries, support economic growth and stimulate job creation.”