Smile Telecoms, a company that provides telecommunication services in multiple African countries, has announced it’ raised $365 million (R5 billion) to expand its existing 4G LTE mobile broadband networks and services.

The R5 billion is comprised of debt and equity funding and has been sourced from “USD50 million of equity, raised from the Public Investment Corporation on behalf of Government Employees Pension Fund” and various African banks and corporations. 

The 4G LTE broadband networks in the 800MHz band are expanding in the hopes that they will be as widely available as the existing, slower, 3G network.

Alcatel Lucent and Ericsson will be providing the equipment and services to accommodate this, with a back-end that reaches as far as London.

This network will reach Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Smile hopes to provide connectivity to 300 million customers in those four countries.

As well as providing the service, it quotes the Brookings Institution to suggest that the expansion will also create new jobs:

For every one percentage point increase in broadband penetration, employment is projected to increase by 0.2 to 0.3 percent per year, a 10 percent increase in the penetration rate of broadband in developing countries is associated with a 1.4 percent increase in GDP per capita.

So what does this all mean? For those four countries it will hopefully mean wider coverage of the now industry-standard 4G LTE network speeds. It will also hopefully mean local job creation and the lowering of the average price of decent internet connections.

Over here in South Africa this will have no immediate affect: while this country is not included in Smile’s operating countries, it does have an associate company located here, as well as a physical office in Bryanston.

As a South African resident you can’t directly access Smile’s services,, but as the network expands it may soon reach our borders, and we’ll let you know if that ever happens.