London– CDC Group plc, the UK’s development finance institution wholly owned by the UK Government, has announced its investment in WorldLink, the largest private sector internet service provider in Nepal. The investment will help fund WorldLink’s ambitious expansion throughout Nepal, reaching further remote territories and connecting hundreds of thousands of households and small enterprises to the internet.
“Compared to other countries in Asia, access to digital services remains low in Nepal and presents a real challenge for most of the country’s communities and the development of businesses. Improving access to affordable and quality internet is central to Nepal’s development and economic growth, and a key part of UN Sustainable Development Goal 9,” said a statement issued by the CDC.
WorldLink has grown into Nepal’s largest internet service provider, laying over 8,000 km of fibre and reaching some of the country’s most remote places such as Chhatrakot Rural Municipality and Ruru Rural Municipality. It is also participating in a government subsidy scheme to extend internet services to Karnali, the most mountainous and underdeveloped province in Nepal.
CDC’s investment of NPR 135 crores (approximately $12 million) will accelerate its expansion, helping WorldLink to provide even more small businesses and families with a reliable internet source. This advanced connectivity will help stimulate the growth of businesses and the local economy as they open commercial communications on a global platform.
WorldLink is already a large employer, particularly of young people, with nearly 3000 employees. CDC’s investment will support its hiring of over 1,000 additional employees; CDC will also help develop a skills and training programme for all staff and progress health and safety standards.
Srini Nagarajan Managing Director and Head of Asia at CDC commented: “We firmly believe in the power of connectivity to help bring communities out of poverty. Advancing the internet to MSMEs across Nepal gives them access to global trade and markets. It also brings families into contact in Nepal and overseas. WorldLink’s expansion has been impressive, led by its experienced founding and management teams. CDC’s capital will help accelerate this, helping it reach further remote regions. It will also support a meaningful increase in the employee base, providing all staff with learning and development skills.
This is CDC’s second investment in Nepal this year. We are delighted to be creating long term partnerships in a country where our capital will make a meaningful difference to people’s lives.”
Dileep Agrawal, Managing Director, WorldLink said, “We feel honoured to be the first CDC equity investment in Nepal. It is a recognition of our 24 years’ hard work and commitment to Nepal’s internet and telecoms industry. With CDC’s backing, our ambition is to transform Worldlink into a world-class company that will serve as a model and inspiration to other companies in Nepal. Our partnership will accelerate our pursuit to connect everyone, anywhere, all the time.”
Lisa Honan, Head of Office, DFID Nepal said, “DFID has a long history of helping connect Nepal’s most remote villages to the rest of the country through roads and bridges, to support Nepal’s economic growth. I know that this access has worked wonders to unlock the potential of these places. The benefits of dependable internet access in rural Nepal are immense, ranging from improved health services, education, access to information and financial services and connection between people and businesses. I’m excited to see what changes this new initiative between CDC group and WorldLink will bring for Nepal.”
Earlier this year, CDC provided a US$15 million, three-year loan to NMB Bank, one of the country’s leading commercial banks.