Africa and Middle East News

A roundup of tower news across SSA and MENA 

Senegal: Sonatel tower deal likely to be structured as MLL with BTS

Senegal’s market leader Sonatel is bringing to market a portfolio of ~1,900 towers to be made available on a manage with license to lease (MLL) basis. Sonatel is also seeking a build to suit towerco partner. The Senegal towers are thought to be offered in a bundle with a further 900 towers divided across neighboring Mali, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry. For further information, read our Senegal case study.

South Africa: IHS moves into pole position to acquire MTN’s South African towers

Given the ever deepening relationship between IHS and MTN, and the increasing view among the analyst community that IHS would benefit from some reduced country risk “ballast” in their portfolio, most commentators now rate IHS as the most likely acquirer of an estimated 9,000 MTN South African towers expected to be brought to market later this year and closed in 2016. American Tower are also expected to bid for the assets.

South Africa: Telkom restructures asset sale process

Telkom South Africa are believed to have restructured their asset sale process to create a smaller bundle of passive infrastructure assets for sale, with a management service partner sought for the remaining assets.

South Africa: Vodacom gets initial approval for Neotel’s takeover

Bloomberg reports that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has initially given the green light to the acquisition of Neotel by Vodacom for US$561.6mn. In a news statement, the ICASA chairman Stephen Mncube said that “The takeover will be subject to compliance with a local ownership law and adherence to terms regarding the rollout of broadband infrastructure and services.”

South Africa: New MVNO launched in South Africa

MVNO me&you has started offering its services in South Africa. The company is using Cell C’s infrastructure and is now offering SIM-only services. me&you is part of the Ignition Group and has a target of 15,000 to 20,000 subscribers in the first year of operation.

Botswana: beMobile is planning to continue investing in its network

State-owned BTC Mobile, trading as beMobile, reported investments up to US$9mn in 2014/2015 to improve its networks. The CEO of its BTCL, of which beMobile is part of, Paul Taylor, recently stated that: “The investment is geared at improving customer experience. We not only added more sites but improved network capability to handle next generation technologies. Significant investment is planned in our mobile networks for the year 2015/16 for further 3G enhancement and 4G mobile rollout.”

Ghana: CEO of Vodafone Ghana on their ongoing investments

Haris Broumidis, CEO of Vodafone Ghana, was quoted by BizTech Africa commenting that “we have expanded our sites from an initial 300 in 2009 to more than 2,000 across the country”. Vodafone Ghana announced that its investments in the country have reached US$700mn so far. Eaton Towers manages and markets Vodafone’s Ghanaian towers.

Ghana: Afrimax could bid for 4G spectrum

Afrimax Group, a start-up company based in the Netherlands, is considering launching a 4G LTE service in Ghana. Afrimax is reportedly assessing a bid for the 4G spectrum which has been valued at US$92mn. As a requirement, bidders must be at least 40% locally owned.

Cameroon: CamTel hires Huawei for GSM network

CamTel, the State-owned telco, has reached an agreement with Huawei Technologies for its GSM network. The deployment has already commenced in the capital city of Yaounde. CamTel holds a 15-year license to establish mobile network services in the country and plans to start offering services in 2015. CamTel follows Viettel as the second new market entrant in as many years into a Cameroon market that was formerly an MTN / Orange duopoly. IHS operates ~2,000 towers in Cameroon having acquired all MTN’s towers and secured a manage with license to lease contract with Orange.

Cameroon: MTN obtains loan and credit facility for 3G rollout

According to Telegeography, MTN Cameroon has obtained a syndicated term loan and a five-year revolving credit facility to finance the rollout of its 3G network. Six banks have participated with Citibank Cameroon leading the US$130mn deal.

Zimbabwe: Businessmen plan to launch fourth operator

The former CEO of Africa Sun, Dr Shingi Munyeza, and the former CEO of Telecel Zimbabwe, Francis Mawindi, are part of a group of businessmen looking at creating the fourth mobile network operator in the country which would offer 4G LTE services.

Zimbabwe: Millicom expected to appoint new country heads across Africa

Millicom is reportedly looking at nominating various new regional heads in Africa, including Chad, and it has appointed its new Group CEO, Mauricio Ramos, who served as President of Liberty Global, in April.

Tanzania & Chad: Airtel restructures deal with Helios Towers Africa

In a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Bharti Airtel announced the cancellation of the Tanzania and Chad components of their previously announced sale of 3,100 towers to Helios Towers Africa. While Airtel’s statement suggested the agreement had lapsed, no further reason was given for the termination of the deal. In a brief statement on their website, Helios Towers Africa responded “HTA places great value on its business partnership with Airtel and will continue to work with them in Tanzania and elsewhere, including Congo Brazzaville where HTA recently closed a similar transaction with Airtel.”

Angola: Oi to sell its stake in Africatel Holdings

As part of its restructuring plan and to strengthen its position in Brazil, its domestic market, Oi is planning to sell its 75% stake in Africatel Holdings, owner of several units of African telecom companies including Unitel, the first carrier in Angola. According to the Financial Times, Oi has valued the entire Africatel business around US$2.1bn.

KSA & Kuwait Expressions of interest received in Mobily and Zain towers

Multiple parties, including international towercos and domestic investors, expressed interest in acquiring 9,200 Mobily towers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Zain is also exploring the possible sale of 5,000 KSA towers, as well as 1,600 towers in Kuwait. For further information, read “What we know about the Zain and Mobily towers sales in Saudi and Kuwait.”

Egypt: MobiNil sells 2,000 Egyptian towers to Eaton Towers

MobiNil has confirmed the sale of around a third of their tower portfolio, representing around 10% of all of Egypt’s towers, to Eaton Towers in a transaction valued at US$131mn. For detailed coverage of this story, read TowerXchange’s Egypt special feature in this edition.

Algeria: 6,000 Algerian towers may be next to market

One of Algeria’s leading operators is reportedly evaluating the potential sale of their portfolio of around 6,000 towers. Delta Partners estimate there are a total of 17,500  towers in Algeria, providing 99% population coverage.

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