Expanded and more environmentally friendly Lake Victoria ferry routes are the objective of a new round of infrastructure investment.
A ferry company which operates on Lake Victoria, linking communities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, has received investment from an Africa-focused infrastructure investor.
InfraCo will provide USD 3.8 million via a shareholders’ agreement with Globology, which has operated the WaterBus business from Kisumu, Kenya, since 2010. The investment will allow the company to purchase new ferries to run additional Kenyan routes and expand into Tanzania and Uganda. It is hoped that the routes will improve connections between remote communities in the region, and there are ambitions to attract private investment and scale the business further in future.
InfraCo supports infrastructure projects in Africa, from offices in London, Nairobi and Casablanca, and is a subsidiary of Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG).
Globology founder Malcolm Ormiston said in a statement: “We are excited to have the opportunity to grow the reach of the WaterBus service and expand our journey to save lives and facilitate development of Africa’s transportation-challenged communities,” adding that water transport infrastructure has “typically been poorly served by development and investment groups in the region”.
Shell Foundation, a charity run by the oil company, has provided an additional USD 800,000 to convert two existing ferries to solar power, with plans to convert further vehicles if successful.
InfraCo investment manager Bertrand Ketchassi added: “Together we will provide people with safe, reliable access to mainland and island markets and essential services, and we anticipate that developing these transport routes will boost the wider regional economy.”
He went on to cite the value of reducing emissions from the operation, while Shell Foundation regional manager Wanji Nganga said: “Expanding affordable and reliable access to cleaner mobility solutions for goods and people is critical to socio-economic development for low-income populations.”
InfraCo was advised on the deal by lawyers from the London office of Squire Patton Boggs (SPB). The team was led by partner Julian Thatcher, who joined a private equity firm last month, supported by associate Edidem Basiekanem. “Investments like this enable projects and businesses to unlock their potential and create positive impact for so many people in a developing market,” said Thatcher.
Development finance institution PIDG is headquartered in London and was founded by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the governments of the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden and Germany, to invest in infrastructure. The organisation says it prioritises scale, replicability, affordability and transformation when choosing its projects.
PIDG was one of the international investors that participated in January’s United Kingdom-Africa Investment Conference. InfraCo’s past investments include renewable energy projects in Zambia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Chad and Tanzania.
Earlier this month a Moroccan furniture company expanded into Kenya with the acquisition of Furniture Palace, while last year four international DFIs invested in a Kenyan solar provider.
Earlier this month, SPB hired a London-based energy partner with experience on African projects, following the recent addition of a corporate partner at the same time as Thatcher and a Nigerian infrastructure partner late last year.