Cambodia will see a major improvement in internet speed and quality following a USD75 million investment by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) into the country’s largest independent fibre optic network provider.

AIIB’s loan to Cambodia Fibre Optic Communication Network Co., Ltd is the Bank’s first project in Cambodia. It will be invested in approximately 2,000 kilometres of metro and regional fibre optic backbone networks to provide wider coverage within major cities and across suburban and rural areas.

The project is expected to support the government’s information and communications technology (ICT) development plan, which aims for 100-percent urban and 70-percent rural broadband coverage by 2020.

“Improving connectivity is at the core of AIIB’s mandate,” said AIIB Vice President and Chief Investment Officer D.J. Pandian.

“The project will contribute to Cambodia’s drive to accelerate digital connectivity and help develop and expand the country’s telecommunication and ICT sector which is expected to benefit both end users and corporates.”

While Cambodia has a higher mobile subscription rate than most of its neighbours, services that require high broadband such as mobile money services are used at rates well below the average for lower-middle income countries and for the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union’s ICT Development Index.

Faster and more reliable internet access is expected to increase economic efficiency by raising the productivity of digital activities and streamlining business systems.

“The loan aligns well with AIIB’s private capital mobilisation thematic priority and is an important precedent for other international investors and financiers,” said AIIB Investment Operations Director General Dong-ik Lee.