One of Nigeria’s players in the 4G LTE broadband networks, Smile Telecoms, has secured a funding of $365 million for networks expansion in Africa. The funding is said to be the largest capital raised by a telecommunications operator in Africa.
About 86% of the funding or $315 million is multi tranche debt finance to be provided by a consortium led by the African Export-Import Bank. The other members of the consortium are Diamond Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Public Investment Corporation PIC, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Limited and Standard Chartered Bank.
The funds are to be used to expand the company’s 4G networks in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda and give it National coverage in each of the three countries of operation. It also aims to deploy part of the funds towards expansion in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Smile operates mobile wireless networks in three African countries, namely Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. “Founded in 2007 and incorporated in Mauritius, Smile is a pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria (Smile Communications Nigeria), Tanzania (Smile Communications Tanzania), Uganda (Smile Communications Uganda) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Smile Communications DRC) and has an associate company in South Africa. Smile has a single transformative objective of using the best and most innovative technologies to provide its customers with fast, reliable, high quality, easy to use and affordable communication services”.
Smile’s shareholders are Al Nahla Group, (Saudi Arabia); Renven Investment Holdings, (pan-African); Verene, (Smile senior management); Telecom Investments, (Saudi Arabian); Capitalworks, PIC, and Smile employees.
Smile commenced operations in 2012 when it launched its first service in Dar Es Salam, Tanaznia. It quickly followed this up with Ugandan before commencing operations in Nigeria. The company is reputed to be the first 4G LTE commercial network in Africa in the 800MHz band.