British International Investment

Convergence Partners Digital Infrastructure Fund

MalawiNigeriaSouth AfricaEast AfricaSouthern AfricaWest AfricaWestern EuropeCommunications & IT servicesInfrastructure

The fund will make investments in digital infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on emerging growth themes in the digital ecosystem. This includes investments in fibre, wireless, data centres, towers, as well as 5G, Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), fintech and network virtualisation.

This investment was made when British International Investment was named CDC Group.

Our investment

Description of the investment.

Our investment will support an experienced, specialist manager to improve access to better information and communication technology and support economic opportunities through investments into physical and digital infrastructure across Africa. Given the transformational nature of digital infrastructure, impact is expected to be deep and long-lasting.

Impact information

Applies to investments made from 2019 onwards. The tabs in this section define what we expect to achieve through the investment, assessing the potential impact of the investment against six dimensions of impact. You can find more details on our methodology of assessing impact here.

What?

Impact
  • Improved access to information and communications technology (SDG 9C).
  • Improved economic opportunities from greater productivity as a result of technological upgrades (SDG 8.2).

How?

Primary Secondary
  • Direct: Investments in physical infrastructure (fibre, towers, data centres, wireless networks), digital infrastructure (e.g. 5G and cloud), and digital platforms (e.g. Software as a Service) to support digital penetration and scale of services. Late-stage advanced pipeline is expected to increase market capacity across key enablers like fibre connectivity, towers, and data centre services.
  • Economic enabler: Increase digitisation of firms to increase productivity. Evidence shows that network upgrades are linked to measurable GDP uplifts.

Who?

Stakeholder Geography Characteristics
Customers and employees (depending on type of infrastructure)

Current portfolio: Pan-Africa. Pipeline targets: Pan-Africa (44 per cent), South Africa (18 per cent), Nigeria (18 per cent), Ghana (11 per cent), Ethiopia (9 per cent).

Broad-based range of beneficiaries.

How much?

Scale Depth/Duration

The fund's portfolio reaches more than 2500 direct employees, 600,000 households, and over 750 million customers via digital financial services. This translates into an estimated GDP contribution of more than $440 million across the fund's markets.

Particularly for greenfield investments in physical and digital infrastructure, impact is estimated to be deep and long-lasting through the way connectivity affects the economic complexity of a region, including the breadth of products and services it underpins. Evidence shows that network upgrades are linked to measurable GDP uplifts. Impact from services is expected to be deep where new digital services (across sectors such as banking, agriculture, and healthcare) are able to reach previously underserved segments of the population.

Contribution/additionality

Contribution/additionality
  • Financial additionality: Long-term, patient capital not provided in sufficient quantity given high-risk, unproven segment with question marks around returns, particularly in more difficult countries within Africa. We are playing an anchor role in ensuring first close of the fund.
  • Value additionality: We have identified opportunities to strengthen existing business integrity risk assessment tools and provide bespoke capacity building. We will also work with the fund manager to explore transition to greener energy sources where possible

Grid score

Grid Score

To help us direct our investments, we previously used a tool called the Development Impact Grid. It scored investments out of four, based on two factors: the difficulty of investing in a country and the propensity of the sector to generate employment. This tool was used for investments until the end of 2021. Since 2022 it has been replaced by the Impact Score.

2.2-2.9

Risk

Evidence Risk
  • linked to the challenges in directly attributing macroeconomic impacts to this investment. However, this is mitigated by our ability to model selected impacts (such as GDP uplift) for core infrastructure assets such as fibre and towers, which gives us confidence in our ability to capture the relative magnitude of impact from the fund.

Environmental and social information

  • Environmental and social summary

    A high-level description of the environmental and social aspects of the investment. This may include a summary of key environmental and social risks identified during environmental and social due diligence (ESDD); key elements of an environmental and social action plan (ESAP); or ways in which we plan to support the investee improve environmental and social standards, such as through their environmental and social management system (ESMS); as well as any other priority areas agreed with the investee.

  • Environmental and social risk

    A risk category rating, which indicates the level of environmental and social risk associated with an investment. For an explanation of the categorisations used, see here. We consistently provide an environmental and social risk category for all investments screened from 2023 onwards.

Environmental and social summary

The fund manager has a well-established approach to environmental and social management and we will continue to support and monitor its approach as the portfolio grows.

Reporting and Complaints Mechanism

The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism allows anyone outside BII to report alleged breaches of the business integrity or environmental and social provisions of BII’s Policy on Responsible Investing. This includes breaches made by BII, a BII investee, or a portfolio company of a fund in which BII has invested. The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism Rules are available here. Reports and complaints can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail. See more details on our Reporting and Complaints Mechanism here.

For any other general enquiries contact us at [email protected]

  • Key facts

    Last updated

    When the last quarterly update of the website database occurred.

    :
    January 2024
    Project number

    An identifier number shared by investments in the same project.

    :
    D4702
    Status

    The current status of the investment (green flag for active and red flag for exited).

    :
    Active
    Region

    The geographical region where the country is located. We currently invest in Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and the Caribbean. In 2023, BII’s investment mandate was extended allowing it to invest in regional funds linked to Ukraine, with the majority of activity expected to begin post-war. Investments outside these regions were made prior to 2012 under previous investment mandates.

    :
    East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Western Europe
    Country

    The countries from which we derive the value of our investment. Where value is derived from multiple countries, this is indicated.

    :
    Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa
    Sector

    We prioritise those sectors that facilitate development and need our capital the most. Our priority sectors contribute towards many of the Sustainable Development Goals. They range from investing in the power infrastructure that will provide people with better access to electricity, to investing in financial institutions that direct capital to the individuals and businesses that need it the most.

    :
    Communications & IT services, Infrastructure

    We provide capital in the following ways: directly – through direct equity, direct debt, guarantees and other non-intermediated financial instruments; and indirectly – principally through investment funds.

    For direct investments and fund investments, this is the date BII committed capital to the investments. This is typically the date on which legal agreements are signed by all parties.

    For the portfolio companies of our fund investments, this is the date (either the month or the quarter) on which the fund committed capital to the portfolio company.

    For direct equity investments, this is the date at which British International Investment exited the investment.

    For debt investments, this is the date at which the final debt repayment was made.

    For funds, this is the date at which the fund was terminated.

    For underlying fund investments, this is the date at which the fund manager exited the investment.

    The total amount committed, per financial instrument, per investment, on the date BII becomes subject to a binding legal obligation to provide funding or assume a contingent liability. This information is provided in US dollars.

    For direct investments, this is the amount that BII has committed to the business or project. For fund investments, this is the amount BII has committed to the fund.

    The currency in which the investment was made.

    Investment type :
    Fund
    Start date :
    July 2021
    Amount :
    $30m
    Currency of investment :
    USD
    Fund Manager:
    Convergence Partners Africa Limited
    Domicile

    The company or investment fund’s place of incorporation.

    :
    Mauritius

Related investments made by BII into this fund:

Investment name Commitment Region Sector Start date Status
Investment 02 $10m East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Western Europe Communications & IT services, Infrastructure June 2022 Active

Investments made by this fund into companies:

For further information about these companies, visit www.convergencepartners.com

Investment name Country Region Sector Start date Status
42Markets Group Holding Ltd South Africa Southern Africa Communications & IT services June 2023 Active
CTrack Africa Holdings Proprietary Limited South Africa Southern Africa Communications & IT services July 2021 Active
Merit HoldCo Nigeria West Africa Communications & IT services March 2023 Active
Yellow Digital Retailers Ltd Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia East Africa Infrastructure May 2023 Active

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