Interest building in Malian telecom towers

Eaton and IHS are believed to be among several towercos monitoring a potential tower deal in Mali

Orange Mali (70.05% owned by Sonatel) are market leaders with an estimated 63.6% market share and 8.6m active prepaid customers. Orange Mali’s network covered 80% of the population and 38% of the country at the end of 2012 (source: www.orange.com).

Orange’s main competition comes from Sotelma’s Malitel, which reported revenue growth of 19.3% in 2012. Malitel is 51% owned by Maroc Telecom.

Pros and cons of investment in the Malian tower market

Pros

  • New technologies could accelerate cell site densification and generate amendment revenue: Orange launched 3G in May 2010 and announced LTE trials in Mali with a view to launching 4G services in Mali in 2014
  • New market entrant could seek co-locations: a third mobile network operating license was granted to Alpha Telecom, a joint venture between Planor and Monaco Telecom. Alpha Telecom won the license over Viettel, who preferred to build rather than share towers in Mozambique, and Airtel, who may have their own towerco play

Cons

  • Less room for subscriber growth: Mali has subscriber penetration approaching 100%, according to BuddeComm
  • Mobile data yet to take off: Orange Mali reported 13,600 subscribers to broadband Internet by the end of 2012
  • Country risk: French military intervention was recently required to recapture Northern parts of the country, including the cities of Gao and Timbuktu, from Islamic militants. France has begun withdrawal of troops as European countries pledge to retrain the Malian army, supplemented by a regional African force

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