International Finance Corp. teamed up with Communication and Renewable Energy Infrastructure Philippines Inc. to raise $70 million for the construction of more than 600 telecommunications towers in the country.
IFC said in a statement that more people and businesses in the Philippines would have affordable and better mobile connectivity through the $70-million financing package aimed at bridging the digital divide through shared mobile infrastructure.
It said the financing package consisted of a $25.5-million loan from IFC and a parallel facility of $44.5 million.
IFC Philippines country manager Jean-Marc Arbogast said the group wanted to help the Philippines narrow the digital divide and democratize digital connectivity through the creation of shared mobile infrastructure.
“Digital connectivity is more important than ever for businesses and people to thrive. By supporting the entry of a new company, IFC’s investment will contribute to a strong independent tower market in the Philippines, increasing competition, creating jobs, spurring economic growth and help cut emissions,” Arbogast said.
The IFC loan will help improve mobile network capacity, allowing operators to expand to high-speed mobile networks across the country and offer better services at affordable rates.
CREI Phils., a new tower company, said the assistance from IFC would allow it to expand its digital infrastructure portfolio in the Philippines.
“Our management team’s extensive knowhow gained through 15 years of telecoms operations across Southeast Asia and Africa, combined with IFC’s deep knowledge of the country’s telecoms regulatory regime and its experience as an investor in tower companies, will enable us to effectively develop and grow our operations in the country,” said CREI chief executive Kadri Hakim.
CREI said it would be the first time that telecommunication towers would operate on an open-access basis, creating a competitive market for tower colocations.
The company’s entry into the Philippines brings advanced telecommunications technology equipped with efficient energy solutions that help displace and reduce the use of diesel fuel on towers connected to the grid.
It said that in line with the nation’s climate goals, the project would lead to significant greenhouse-gas savings. IFC will also assist the company align its environmental and social practices with IFC’s performance standards.
Results of the 2020 Global Digital Overview survey showed that the number of internet users in the Philippines more than tripled from 23 million in 2010 to 73 million in 2020, despite the lack of infrastructure.
The Philippine ranked 95th out of 142 countries for mobile internet download speed while the number of mobile subscribers per tower, which is a measure of network congestion, was more than double the regional average.
Studies showed that to fill the gap, the Philippines would need a significant number of new towers built in the next seven to eight years to support the government’s network capacity requirements.