A pair of World Bank Group units revealed financial backing for Safaricom Ethiopia, with its investment arm set to pump $157.4 million into the operator’s parent company and provide a loan facility of $100 million.

In a statement from the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the pair explained the support was designed to aid ongoing construction of Safaricom’s network in the country.

Ultimately, the backers believe this will improve access to affordable and reliable internet services.

The IFC’s equity investment will be in Global Partnership for Ethiopia in return for a minority stake in the venture, which has Vodafone Group and its Africa-based affiliates among its other shareholders. It will also provide the loan facility.

Its expected investment was revealed by the IFC in September 2022, when it disclosed a proposed sum of $160 million.

MIGA will provide ten-year guarantees of $1 billion to cover investments made by the operator’s other investors.

IFC VP of industries Mohamed Gouled said it hoped to “help the company create a competitive market for mobile connectivity”.

“The Ethiopian telecommunications market, as well as the country’s economy and society, will benefit substantially from equitable, high-quality internet access and improved financial inclusion.”

Safaricom Ethiopia launched its first services in 2022, becoming the country’s first private mobile operator and providing competition to state-owned Ethio Telecom.

Authorities are expected to reignite the search for a third player for the market later this year, alongside potentially selling a stake in the incumbent.