IFC agreed to invest USD100m in digital infrastructure assets managed by DigitalBridge, a global digital infrastructure investment firm. These include Scala, a Brazilian data center operator, and Highline, a Brazilian independent provider of wireless communications infrastructure and tower operator.
Efforts to increase productivity and economic growth in Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia through better digital connectivity are set to receive a boost with a $100 million investment by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in digital infrastructure assets managed by affiliates of DigitalBridge Group, Inc. (DigitalBridge), a leading global digital infrastructure investment firm.
The funds will help enable the expansion of towers and data centers, allowing businesses and households to access quality digital services, such as mobile communications, online medical advice, electronic payments, and online food delivery.
The IFC investment in digital infrastructure assets managed by DigitalBridge in Southeast Asia and Latin America is the latest example of IFC’s continued focus on closing the digital divide by improving digital infrastructure and services, boosting rural connectivity, and accelerating the rollout of 4G and 5G digital communications technology globally.
IFC’s investment includes $75 million in three digital infrastructure companies – (1) Scala, a Brazilian data center operator with plans to expand to Chile and Mexico and the first data center in Latin America to run fully on renewable energy; (2) EdgePoint, a tower investment platform with operations in Indonesia and Malaysia; and (3) Highline, an independent provider of wireless communications infrastructure and tower operator in Brazil. An additional $25 million will be invested at a later stage in other digital infrastructure assets in emerging markets managed by DigitalBridge.
“The investment comes at a time when improvements in digital infrastructure are a vital element of emerging markets’ recovery from COVID-19, which has exacerbated digital connectivity challenges,” said Lance Crist, Global Head of Equity for Infrastructure at IFC. “Digital infrastructure underpins every aspect of society and the economy, from smart cities and e-government to healthcare and education, from e-commerce, financial services, and manufacturing to research and development and more. Strengthening the digital capacity and reach of developing countries will enable significant progress towards achieving inclusive growth, economic stability, and improved quality of life for all, including the most vulnerable.”
Digital technologies are transforming development in emerging markets as businesses and people embrace tech-enabled solutions that are solving today’s most pressing challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital adoption across the world, allowing people to stay connected and governments and businesses running during lockdowns. While the reach of the internet has expanded significantly in recent years, still almost half of the world’s population remains offline according to the International Telecommunication Union, mainly in developing countries.
“Digital connectivity is a critical resource that impacts all aspects of personal and professional life, yet it is not fully accessible to many people around the world. IFC’s support will enable DigitalBridge to further our investments in emerging markets and help close the digital divide, providing fast and reliable digital infrastructure across Asia and Latin America,” said Kevin Smithen, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer of DigitalBridge. “We are excited about our partnership with IFC and look forward to deploying our industry-leading expertise and capabilities for the benefit of these important communities.”
Over the last decade, IFC has invested and mobilized $5.9 billion in digital infrastructure, and more than $1 billion between July 2020 to June 2021 alone. In addition to enhanced digital infrastructure, IFC will also guide DigitalBridge, EdgePoint, Highline, and Scala to align their environmental and social practices with IFC’s performance standards. IFC’s expertise in digital infrastructure will be crucial in building capacity and implementing policies and procedures for the companies’ long-term sustainable growth.