Airtel Mobile Commerce
On June 30, 2022, MIGA issued 12 guarantees totaling US$180 million for a period of up to 5 years to The Rise Fund II Aurora, S.à r.l (The Rise Fund), a TPG private equity fund focused on impact investments around the world. MIGA’s guarantees cover The Rise Fund’s equity investment in the mobile money and digital financial services companies operating under the Airtel Money brand in the following 12 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa: Chad, The Republic of Congo, DRC, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, Uganda, and Zambia.
This investment was made through the purchase of US$200 million in shares of Airtel Mobile Commerce B.V. (AMC), the parent company of these 12 Airtel Money companies, providing The Rise Fund with a stake in AMC of approximately 7.5%. AMC is majority-owned by Airtel Africa plc, a mobile telecom company. The Airtel Money companies have been carved out of Airtel Africa and transferred to AMC. The Rise Fund’s investment in AMC, alongside other strategic investors, facilitates the establishment of AMC as a standalone company, separated from Airtel Africa’s telecom operations. As a standalone company, AMC can focus on the growth of Airtel Money’s operations, contributing to greater financial inclusion in the Host Countries.
The project has been categorized as ‘C’ in line with MIGA’s Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy (2013). The Airtel Money Affiliates provide digital financial services such as wallet (cash-in/cash-out) services, airtime recharging, bill payments, merchant payments, money transfers, savings and microloans. The E&S risks and impacts associated with these activities are considered low; the E&S issues are mainly related labor risks and compliance with E&S regulations in the countries of operation. The applicable Performance Standards for this project are – Performance Standard 1: Assessment and Management of E&S Risk and Impacts, and Performance Standard 2: Labor and Working Conditions. Airtel Africa, the controlling shareholder in AMC, implements E&S policies and procedures which are in line with MIGA standards and international best practice. These policies and procedures are applicable to all subsidiaries, including AMC and its Airtel Money Affiliates.
The project will increase consumers’ access to mobile money accounts in countries where access to financial services is typically low. Mobile money services particularly benefit low-income populations who may lack access to formal bank accounts, facilitating account ownership, instant digital money transfers and payments. The project will also reach more microloan customers, which is particularly important in countries where access to credit and formal financial institutions is low. Mobile money services boost financial inclusion, reduce transaction costs, and facilitate successful consumption smoothing and risk-sharing among users.
The project is consistent with the WBG Digital Economy for Africa Initiative (DE4A) and the African Union Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa, which consider Digital Financial Services a critical sector to drive Africa’s digital transformation. The project is aligned with MIGA’s FY2021-23 Strategic Business Outlook emphasis on catalyzing and mobilizing private investment as part of the Financing for Development (FfD) agenda to help achieve the WBG twin goals and Sustainable Development Goals. The Project will also support MIGA’s strategic direction of expanding its footprint and deepening its development impact in IDA/FCS countries.