Private Equity Firm Harith Buys Into Malawi Fiber Network

(Bloomberg) -- South African-based private equity firm Harith General Partners Pty Ltd. is buying into a fiber-optic cable network in Malawi as it invests more than $1 billion in infrastructure on the continent.

Harith has put almost $800 million to work in African infrastructure so far, a third of that in telecoms, company director Emile Du Toit said by phone. The latest investment will make it the majority shareholder in Malawi’s biggest fiber network provider, Open Connect Limited, he said.

“We have had two funding rounds, one of $630 million and one of $400 million that we are in the process of deploying,” said Du Toit. “Telecommunications make up an important part of our investment plans, together with energy and transportation.”

Open Connect’s fiber network stretches 2,250 kilometers (1,398 miles) through the country of more than 18 million people, where services such as telecoms have overtaken agriculture as the biggest sector of an economy that grew by 4 percent last year, according to the World Bank.

Harith’s other fiber investments in Africa include an almost 30 percent stake in Dark Fibre Africa, controlled by South Africa’s richest man Johann Rupert, and a data center company in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

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