KAMPALA (Reuters) - African telecom firm Africell plans to spend part of a $100 million U.S. credit line on expanding its infrastructure and fintech services, its chief executive said on Friday.
The 18-year-old company, which has 15 million subscribers across its four African operations, secured the loan in May from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government’s private investment fund.
Africell founder and chief executive Ziad Dalloul told Reuters the money would help fund infrastructure investments for its operations in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia and Sierra Leone.
He also said it would help the firm expand fintech services, such as mobile payments, micro-insurance and micro-finance.
Mobile money payments, pioneered in Kenya, have expanded rapidly in other African nations where many people do not have bank accounts.
Dalloul said Africell would bid to become the fourth operator in Angola, which was expected to reissue a tender in the next two months after the original tender for the licence was annulled in April.
“We are looking only at markets where we can make a difference,” he said, saying this included Angola and Zimbabwe.
He said Angola was attractive because the country’s state-owned Angola Telecom had a large market share that could be vulnerable to a more aggressive private operator like Africell.
“Day one, we can just change the whole thing ... drop market prices, expand into rural areas, provide faster, better service on internet. These are the things we know how to do. So that’s why we are keeping an eye on Angola,” he said.
He said Africell had $300 million, separate from the OPIC credit line, to spend on a new market like Angola within the first year of commencing business if they secured a licence.
Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Omar Mohammed and Edmund Blair