MEA News

A roundup of tower news across SSA and MENA

Burkina Faso: Orange and ENERGY VISION in final stages of agreeing ESCO contract

ENERGY VISION, who has previously been awarded an ESCO contract by Airtel governing 400 sites in Gabon, is understood to be in the final stages of reaching an agreement with Orange in Burkina Faso. The contract is expected to cover 120 sites with the potential to increase this to 200

Cameroon and DRC: EIB funds the rollout of 1,000 solar power towers by Africa Mobile Networks

The European Investment Bank will provide €24mn in financing to fund the rollout of 1,000 solar powered mobile towers in rural locations in Cameroon and the DRC. Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) are behind the project which is designed to make ‘a significant step in improving the financial inclusion of people living in vulnerable and remote communities, with a particular focus on women, health and banking services.’ 750 of the sites will be in areas of the DRC affected by conflict, improving the security and safety of villages in the region.

Chad: Millicom’s first ESCO project up and running

In July, Millicom’s first ESCO project went live. Tigo Chad signed an outsourcing agreement earlier this year and whilst full details of the project are yet to emerge, insiders suggest that Camusat (via their investment vehicle, Aktivco) has taken over the sites.

DRC: Orange and GreenWish Partners sign ESCO contract

Orange have signed an ESCO contract with GreenWish Partners to take over energy management on 250 telecom towers in the DRC. GreenWish, in conjunction with their operational partner, Sagemcom, will deploy solar hybrid power solutions across the sites to improve fuel efficiency. The agreement marks the first ESCO contract that Orange has signed, with the operator known to have RFPs issues in a number of other African countries

Kenya: Telkom Kenya to roll out 500 new base transmission stations and initiates process for sale of towers

Telkom Kenya is investing $50mn in the roll out of 500 new base stations in order to upgrade its network. With the high cost of building sites from scratch, Telkom Kenya plans to use the towers of Safaricom and Eaton Towers in order to control expenditure. The operator is also deploying its 4G network in a pilot phase with the network due for rollout in the next few months. Simultaneously the operator has appointed Intrepid’s Daniel Lee to run the sale of its tower portfolio. Both Eaton Towers and American Tower are known to have an expressed an interest in the towers; for Eaton the acquisition would almost double their tower count in the country; for American Tower it would add a fifth market to their African portfolio.

Kuwait: Zain tower sale to Towershare awaiting final regulatory approvals

Zain’s sale of 1,600 towers to Towershare is awaiting final regulatory approval which is expected to be granted by the end of the month. The deal, when announced, will mark the Middle East’s first tower transaction of scale after a number of stop-start processes in the past.

Nigeria: Etisalat Nigeria rebrands as 9mobile; investors express interest in the opco

Etisalat Nigeria has been rebranded to 9mobile after Etisalat’s exit from the business. Earlier this year, Etisalat Group was forced to hand over its 45% stake in Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services (EMTS) to the security trustee of the firm’s lenders after the opco failed to reach a debt resolution after defaulting on a $1.2bn loan. Several parties are reported to have expressed an interest in acquiring EMTS including Orange, Vodafone and Nigerian conglomerate BUA Group.

Oman: Regulator postpones the award of a third operator license

Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has delayed the award of a third operator license as it examines the implications of Omantel’s acquisition of a 10% stake in Zain. Several parties had submitted bids for the license including Zain, Saudi Telecom Company, Etisalat and Sudatel, with an announcement of the winner having been expected at the start of September. Reports suggest that an announcement will now be made in late November. The winning bidder will join Omantel and Ooredeoo, as well as two MVNOs, FRiENDi Mobile and Renna Mobile in the country.

Saudi Arabia: Zain enter exclusive negotiations with IHS Towers and Towershare

Number three mobile network operator in Saudi Arabia, Zain, has entered into exclusive negotiations with a consortium involving IHS Towers and Towershare regarding the sale of their portfolio of 8000 towers. Zain had previously entered into exclusive negotiations with TASC Towers, but the deal has since lapsed. Having sold their Pakistani opco to edotco earlier this year, Towershare are in a strong position to take on a new portfolio and expect to also acquire Zain’s towers in Kuwait. IHS Towers is Africa’s largest towerco with a footprint in five African markets. With the towerco’s investors looking to exit in the next 18 months, adding a further country to their portfolio will help to balance the company’s risk profile after a challenging year in Nigeria.

Saudi Arabia: STC and Mobily joint venture on hold

After having announced their intention to form a joint venture towerco in order to bring efficiencies to their combined network of towers, Saudi Telecom Company and Mobily have announced that they have put the plans on hold in order to reconsidering all their available options. In 2016, both operators commenced sale processes for their portfolios of towers, sale processes which were subsequently cancelled but which may once again be reconsidered. Saudi Telecom Company own 16,400 towers in the market and Mobily own 9,600.

Senegal: Millicom agrees sale with a new buyer for its Senegal operations

Millicom has dropped its $129mn deal to sell its Senegalese opco to local digital financial company Wari in favour of a sale to a consortium involving NJJ, Sofima and Teyliom Group. NJJ is the holding company of Xavier Nel, who founded Iliad Group, the main shareholder in France’s Free Mobile and which is owner of Switzerland’s Salt Mobile and Monaco’s Monaco Telecom. Sofima is an investment vehicle managed by Axian Group which owns TELMA and Towerco of Madagascar along with further telecom operations in the Indian Ocean. Teyliom is an investment holding group focussed on West and Central Africa which has a 7% stake in MTN Cote d’Ivoire.

South Africa: Telkom spins out infrastructure assets into Gyro Towers

Telkom have spun out their tower portfolio into a separate entity, Gyro Towers. The company is understood to have a portfolio of around 3,500 towers in the South African market. The move is part of a bid to extract more value from its assets, with the company actively pursuing co-locations on its sites.

South Africa: Atlas Tower continues build to suit growth

Atlas Tower has continued its impressive organic growth, more than doubling its site count in the past 12 months. The towerco’s site count currently sits at 362 sites, up from 160 towers this time last year.

Tanzania: Helios Towers Tanzania acquires Zantel’s mainland sites

Helios Towers Tanzania (HTT) has added Zantel’s 185 mainland sites to its portfolio in Tanzania. Under a separate service agreement, HTT will also work to decommission Zantel’s duplicate sites in order to bring further efficiencies and minimise the environmental impact of delivering communications in the country. Zantel is part of the Millicom Group which had previously sold the majority of its Tanzanian towers to Helios. Helios own a portfolio of 3,475 sites in the country and has been undertaking extensive decommissioning activities.

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