Speaking on this new venture, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, CEO of CTO, said “Despite the successful growth of cellular networks, many of the developing nations of the Commonwealth have difficulty in securing the investment to provide broadband access, because they lack adequate project funding from venture and development capital. To address this need, the CTO has been authorised to set up this new Fund, the CTDF, to provide risk capital investment jointly with operating partners, primarily to develop wireless broadband networks and services that will deliver urgently needed Internet access and services, vital for promoting economic development.”
A number of Ministers indicated their support for the timely initiative. According to Hon Dr Ignace Gatare, the Rwandan Minister for Information and Communications Technology, “This initiative is one of the critical elements in realization of a sustainable ICT development, ensuring that telecommunication services reach the people in emerging markets. Rwanda has always placed critical importance of ICT to national development, and sees the establishment of the fund as key solution in addressing challenges for financing ICT development in the developing world.”
A number of other Commonwealth countries stretching from the Asia-pacific region to Africa and the Caribbean have also expressed their strong support including Fiji, Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.
For sovereign investors and global operators seeking to increase their exposure to the growth of broadband in emerging markets, the CTDF will be the first multi-country, public-private, commercial investment fund, offering the opportunity to invest in a diversified portfolio of wireless telecom assets, in partnership with established operators in the founder member states.
Speaking on its benefits, the CTO’s Director of Programmes and Business Development, Bashir Patel, said, “The CTDF will be an independently managed fund, established and sponsored by the founder investors in the Commonwealth Telecom Development Company, whose Governing Board will be able to exercise overall control of the fund. The Founder investors will have the chance to secure a place on the Governing Board and to contribute to setting the Fund’s investment strategy. They will be able to secure advance knowledge of new investment projects with reliable potential partners. This will enable investors in the Fund to propose new projects to build new networks or expand existing ones.”
The CTO speaks for fifty five countries, whose emerging markets of two billion people, offer the greatest global potential growth in telecommunications demand. While at least 50% of their people now have access to a mobile network, access to broadband internet services is very limited. The Digital Commonwealth’s goal is to deliver broadband access to all communities in its member states and is the reason for the establishment of the CTDF.
The CTO is an inter-governmental organization which provides technical assistance services to its member countries through research and studies, consultancies and advisory services, capacity building and training workshops, and through knowledge-sharing events.