IFC to provide $3mn loan to Kyrgyz broadband operator ElCat

IFC to provide $3mn loan to Kyrgyz broadband operator ElCat
ElCat's network in Kyrgyzstan
By bne IntelliNews March 1, 2021

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will provide a $3mn loan to Kyrgyzstan’s largest private wholesale broadband operator ElCat in order to boost fibre coverage in underserved areas of the country. 

Fibre optic cable is the leading technology used for reliable high-speed data transmission and will enable mobile and fixed broadband connectivity. Landlocked Kyrgyzstan’s limited international bandwidth has delayed the nation’s adoption of broadband technologies and internet usage. This is especially prevalent in rural areas. Some estimates assess Kyrgyzstan’s fixed broadband penetration rate at around 19%. Access to high-speed internet remains limited and costly for both businesses and individuals. Average fixed and mobile broadband internet speeds stand significantly below the global average.

“With IFC's funding, we plan to expand our network, improve affordability and increase access to high-speed internet connectivity for households, businesses, and public sites—schools, healthcare centres, and government offices—including locations in remote parts of the country," said Ulan Tolubaev, ElCat's CEO. 

"One of IFC's strategic priorities in the Kyrgyz Republic is to advance digital inclusion by improving digital connectivity. This will help boost productivity, create jobs, and increase access to essential services. By providing financing to ElCat, we can help lay the groundwork needed to drive innovation and bring the power of the Internet to more people and businesses in the Kyrgyz Republic," Cassandra Colbert, IFC regional manager, said.

Improving access to high-speed broadband networks in Kyrgyzstan is set to drive higher usage of digital services by government agencies and businesses amid growing reliance on data-intensive applications, such as video streaming and conferencing.