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Wananchi secures credit and technical support for DTH rollout in East Africa

Bapun Raz

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East Africa’s Wananchi Group has secured a revolving credit facility to help finance the roll out of
its Zuku direct to home (DTH) satellite TV network. Already it has placed almost US$1 million worth of technical support orders with Canada’s International Datacasting Corporation (IDC). The vendor financing package, developed by IDC in
cooporation with Export Development Canada
(EDC) and an undisclosed Canadian financial
institution, will help expand DTH delivery of Zuku,
which already provides triple play broadcast,
internet and telephony services via cable in Kenya. EDC first invested in ATMT in July 2010 under its international equity programme. “We believe that this unique structure acts as an important cornerstone for our relationship going forward,” said Richard Essex, Chief Development Officer of East Africa Capital Partners (EACP), and Africa Telecommunications Media and Technology Fund (ATMT). “Canadian technology is already playing a key role for Wananchi as it launches its pay TV service. We have broken new ground and as the business grows; we look forward to this facility growing along with it.” The financing deal will help enable the African digital media company to realise its plans for DTH rollout not only in Kenya, but in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia. “IDC and Wananchi worked well together with EDC to structure this unique financing,” said Frederick Godard, President and CEO, IDC. “We will look to expanding this credit facility for Wananchi, and to pursuing other viable opportunities within this new framework.” The new project financing has also led to two new contract awards for IDC. The first, a multi-year support agreement encompasses equipment and software, is valued at $299,000 in the first year. The Ottawa based company will also provide operations
and technical assistance for the Zuku DTH satellite platform thanks to a contract worth $591,000. The relationship between IDC and Wananchi Group dates back to June 2010 when the technology supplier was contracted to provide broadcast equipment including head end equipment to enable a satellite to set top box distribution platform for Zuku. In May 2011, the Wananchi Group received $57.5 million in funding from international investors including Liberty Global, Oppenheimer Funds and Canada’s Sarona Asset Management.


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