DBSA pauses on ICT funding

Audra Mahlong
By Audra Mahlong, senior journalist
Johannesburg, 08 Jan 2010

While the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) is looking at investments into the continent's ICT markets, new investments can only be expected later in 2010, it says.

The bank says no new projects would be announced soon, but it will look to exploit potential in the large ICT market in the region. The focus will be on cheap, affordable communication technologies to the under-served population.

In March 2009, the DBSA reported it had invested more than R1.2 billion in ICT projects.

The DBSA says it has invested in and provided loans for initiatives including undersea cables, such as the East Africa Cable System. The bank will finance part of the project's $235 million (R2.27 billion) price tag.

The DBSA also previously financed iBurst's nationwide broadband network, worth more than R50 million.

The DBSA also funds the Local Government Resource Centre, a virtual network facility that serves as a one-stop support centre for municipalities on a range of issues.

The bank says it considers ICT as having a pertinent role in delivering public services. The DBSA notes it will continue to be a major funder of ICT infrastructure and will impact on growth prospects in the technology sectors of Southern Africa.

Increased spend

The DBSA has increased its ICT spend yearly, since 2006, and continues to make larger investments. The bank invested R1.1 billion in ICT in the Southern African Development Community in 2006.

For the 2006/7 financial year, the bank's portfolio of commitments in the ICT sector amounted to over R3.2 billion, half of which was earmarked for spending outside SA.

The focus will be on empowerment and development, says the bank. The DBSA notes that the major infrastructure projects it has invested in so far have impacted on economic development.