The SA Housing and Infrastructure Fund (SAHIF), the largest black private investor in South Africa’s optical fibre industry, has embarked on an ambitious international drive to raise capital to accelerate the expansion of high-speed internet access throughout the country.

SAHIF CEO Rali Mampeule said the company aimed to secure up to $225 million around (R4,1 Billion) in investments from both domestic and international sources, including pension funds, development finance institutions (DFIs), and limited partners (LPs). SAHIF through one of its subsidiary has secured $38 Million around (R700 Million) funding to recapitalize its business by settling the fund’s existing facilities with AIIM and Old Mutual Hybrids Equity. “This successful capital raise has provided SAHIF with a robust investment platform to fast-track ongoing high-speed fibre internet access projects, particularly through its investments in MFN as an independent institutional shareholder not funded by its co- shareholder anymore,” said Mampeule. “We want this initiative to pave the way for equitable access to high-speed internet, drive economic growth, and nurture innovation within previously underserved communities.”

In June 2021, SAHIF, together with Old Mutual’s African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) and STOA, a foreign investment vehicle that is based in France, acquired the 25.8 percent interest in MetroFibre Networx held by Sanlam Private Equity, African Rainbow Capital and a minority shareholder, the transaction made the three(3) entities to be the 80 percent majority shareholders of MFN. MetroFibre was launched in 2010 and operated as a provider of fibre-to-the-business. It owns and manages its core network, a globally compliant Carrier Ethernet 2.0 open-access network and has expanded its service offering to residential and corporate customers.

SAHIF’s capital raise comes on the back of the announcement in 2022 by MetroFibre that it had successfully finalised a R5 billion debt finance package from Standard Bank to support its continued fibreoptic data network rollout across SA. This funding would help it to increase its reach by 500,000 households by 2025. Mampeule emphasised the significance of this capital infusion, stating, “We started knocking on doors in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year, and we are currently in talks with several local and international pension funds, DFIs, and LPs. These engagements have been very fruitful, and we believe the capital secured will create a valuable investment platform from which SAHIF will scale its current investments.”

He said that in addition to its focus on digital infrastructure, SAHIF’s capital injection would expedite the delivery of affordable housing and facilitate strategic investments within the financial services sector. These initiatives would encompass innovative home loan products and the leveraging of cutting-edge technologies aligned with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and Shelter Tech, both within South Africa and across Sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, SAHIF has adopted an eco-friendly business approach, prioritising environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments. Recognising the critical role of renewable energy in diversifying its asset portfolio and driving sustainable growth, the organisation has assembled a team of seasoned renewable energy investment professionals. This dedicated team will spearhead SAHIF’s expansion into the renewable energy value chain, ensuring a comprehensive ESG investment strategy within the utilities businesses in the African continent.