To improve digital infrastructure and strengthen connectivity across the Maldives, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have agreed to provide $55 million in Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun Public Limited (Dhiraagu), the country’s largest and leading digital and telecom service provider.
The first facility amounting to $25 million will support Dhiraagu’s working capital and capital investment program to enhance internet experience, including investments in 5G services and high-speed fibre broadband to more islands. It will also support Dhiraagu’s Domestic Submarine Cable expansion project, which aims to enhance their capacity to meet the increasing data needs of the customers.
The second facility of $30 million will support Dhiraagu’s SEA-ME-WE 6 Submarine Cable System project, connecting Maldives to the global superhighway – an important step towards making the Maldives a global digital hub.
“We are delighted to be working with two major global development institutions, ADB and IFC, who are helping fund our major investment program to support the social and economic development of our nation. Securing this funding is an endorsement of the strength of the Company and our vision for the development of digital infrastructure in the Maldives. This investment has also played a pivotal role in establishing our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) function under which we are aiming to enhance our commitment towards achieving the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals,” said Ismail Rasheed, CEO & MD at Dhiraagu.
Dhiraagu has also established an Environmental and Social Management System in compliance with IFC Performance Standards (PS) 2012 and ADB Safeguard Policy Statement (2009) with the aim of creating long-term stakeholder value through the implementation of a business strategy that focuses on the ethical, social, environmental, cultural, and economic dimensions of doing business. Apart from helping the company strengthen its environmental and social management system, IFC will also support Dhiraagu’s efforts to close the current gender gap in its workforce, with a focus on increasing the number of women in technical roles through customized advisory support.
“IFC’s investment in Dhiraagu to boost the digital infrastructure of the Maldives will be invaluable to help overcome the challenge of connecting people in one of the world’s most dispersed countries,” said Hector Gomez Ang, IFC’s Regional Director for South Asia. “This investment will help diversify the economy by unlocking the digital delivery of key public and private services, allowing people living in the atolls to access education and healthcare. It will also help build resilience by enabling remote work and offers the potential to create more jobs in a country now heavily reliant on tourism. IFC is committed to helping the Maldives achieve inclusive and sustainable growth for future resilience.”
“Mobile and internet connectivity is important for socioeconomic growth and development,” said ADB Private Sector Operations Department Director General Suzanne Gaboury. “It’s crucial for island nations like the Maldives, where public services are difficult to provide as the population is spread across numerous islands. This is ADB’s first private sector infrastructure financing transaction in the Maldives, which will help to deliver faster and more affordable internet connectivity and be a crucial enabler of private sector investments and regional connectivity.”
As the sector rapidly grows and advances technologically, IFC aims to continue being one of the leading development financiers in digital infrastructure across emerging markets, supporting all aspects of the ecosystem.