Dar es Salaam — Airtel Tanzania, one of the mobile phone operators in Tanzania has joined its main rivalry Vodacom Tanzania whereby the two telecom companies will have full access to towers from Helios Towers Africa (HTA).
Helios Towers Africa was last year teamed up with Vodacom in a partnership which involves the transfer of 1,149 existing telecoms towers from Vodacom to HTT and a commitment to an ambitious, short-term rollout which will see a significant increase in points of service owned by HTT.
Last week, Bharti Airtel, a subsidiary of Airtel Tanzania have announced to offload nearly 20% of its 15,000 strong tower infrastructure in Africa to HTA, a statement availed to East African Business Week said.
The company has invited bids for sale of the remaining towers and in the coming months more such sale announcement is expected, it added.
It said Bharti and HTA have signed a deal for around 3,100 telecom towers spread across four of the 17 African nations where the company operates.
This means Airtel will have full access to towers from HTA, an independent towers company in Africa, under a long-term lease contract.
The agreement between the two firms also envisages that tower operations-related personnel will be transferred from Airtel to HTA.
This would allow Airtel to focus on its core business and customers so as to enable it to de-leverage through debt reduction, and will significantly reduce its ongoing capital expenditure on passive infrastructure, the company said.
The sale of Bharti Airtel's towers will expand Helios' tower coverage in Africa to over 7,800.
The HTT partnership with Vodacom involves the transfer of 1,149 existing telecoms towers from Vodacom.
This means HTT acquires all of Vodacom's existing passive infrastructure and supplies Vodacom with a significant increase in points of service in Tanzania.
The deal will expand HTA's tower coverage in Africa to 4,700 owned towers and is another example of HTA partnering with an industry-leading mobile network operator in Africa. This partnership model is core to HTA's offering.
By collaborating with its customers and being solely focused on providing a telecoms infrastructure solution, HTA helps its customers to achieve their goals of reducing operating cost, preserving capital, focusing on their core business, and mitigating the proliferation of towers through infrastructure sharing, as they expand network coverage and capacity to meet demand and improve quality of service.
The structure of the cash and shares transaction, which involves Vodacom acquiring a 24.5% share in HTT, also demonstrates the belief and confidence of a leading African telecoms operator in the business model of tower sharing and in the business model and operational capabilities of HTA.
Helios Towers, founded by George Soros-backed Helios Investment Partners, claims to have the largest number of telecom towers held by an independent company focused exclusively on Africa