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Convergence Partners targets African fibre, wireless investments

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 23 Jul 2021
Andile Ngcaba, chairman of Convergence Partners.
Andile Ngcaba, chairman of Convergence Partners.

Andile Ngcaba-led investment firm Convergence Partners is targeting investment in fibre, wireless technologies, data centres and towers across Africa through a new fund, the Convergence Partners Digital Infrastructure Fund (CPDIF).

The company announced its plans yesterday, saying the CPDIF will also boost entrepreneurship, innovation and skills development though augmenting access to the internet and all the critical digital tools it offers.

Convergence Partners notes a big investment opportunity still exists to address digital inclusion on the continent, with the World Bank estimating that more than $100 billion of capital is required to bring Sub-Saharan Africa to acceptable levels of digital access by 2030.

According to the Bretton Wood Institution, despite the advances in the rollout of digital infrastructure on the continent, fixed broadband penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa still lags far behind, at about 7% of the population.

This glaring digital gap is what Ngcaba and his team are seeking to close, while creating opportunities for locals.

Yesterday, Convergence Partners announced CPDIF has so far raised R1.7 billon out of R3.6 billion it needs to execute its own projects.

The fund has since secured global investors such as the CDC Group (the UK’s development finance institution), US International Development Finance Corporation, European Investment Bank, International Finance Corporation and Proparco (the private sector arm of the French Development Agency).

“We are delighted to have achieved this milestone, particularly given the headwinds in African PE fundraising generally, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business activity, over the past 12 months,” says Brandon Doyle, CEO of Convergence Partners.

“We are very pleased with the level of support from both repeat and new investors, and believe this reflects our solid track record and the opportunity CPDIF presents at this crucial time in both a tech and African context.”

According to Convergence Partners, the CPDIF is a continuation of its strategy that dates back to 2006, when the company was founded. In the past 15 years, the company has invested in submarine cable systems, geostationary satellites, terrestrial long-haul, metro and access fibre, wireless networks and data centres.

Convergence Partners has an asset base in excess of $400 million across South, East and West Africa, and the CPDIF has already made its first investment in Ctrack.

Ctrack is a telematics software-as-a-service digital infrastructure platform providing fleet management, insurance and weather telematic and asset tracking solutions to its subscribers in Africa and the Middle East.

“As we embark on this journey as CPDIF, the next 12 years will be spent continuing to build on our original vision of ubiquitous Pan-African communications,” Ngcaba says.

“As the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commences in the same year, we embark on the next step of our journey as Convergence Partners. We believe AfCFTA will benefit immensely from the availability of digital infrastructure. Our greatest strength is our knowledge of technology, investments, and deep understanding of the African market and cultures.”