Airtel to divest Zambia, Rwanda tower assets to IHS
Bharti Airtel Limited today announced agreements under which IHS will acquire over 1100 telecoms towers across Zambia and Rwanda.
In terms of the agreements, Airtel will sell and lease back over 1100 towers from IHS in Zambia and Rwanda under a 10-year renewable contract. The agreements will expand the IHS tower footprint in Africa to over 21,000 towers across five countries.
The agreements will allow Airtel to focus on its core business and customers, enable it to deleverage through debt reduction, and will significantly reduce its on-going capital expenditure on passive infrastructure in these African markets.
For IHS, the acquisition is another major step towards the scale needed to provide shared telecoms infrastructure solutions in Africa. IHS customers, the mobile network operators, will benefit from lower operating costs, expanded network coverage and accelerated network roll out times, higher network capacity and improved quality of service. The consequences for the mobile subscribers will be more stable networks, higher network uptimes in which to make calls and a more ubiquitous service across the country.
The agreements are subject to statutory and regulatory approvals.
Commenting on the development, Christian de Faria, MD & CEO – Africa at Bharti Airtel said, “We are delighted to partner with IHS, which has a proven track record in passive infrastructure management in Africa and look forward to working with them. This agreement will accelerate infrastructure sharing amongst operators and benefit customers in form of affordable tariffs and wider network coverage.”
Issam Darwish, Executive Vice Chairman and Group CEO of IHS, commented, “We have been working with Airtel for many years. And we are very pleased to have signed our first Buy and Lease Back transaction with Airtel. The opportunity to expand our East African business bringing IHS’ market leading energy and infrastructure management practices to a wider market is an excellent opportunity. We are very excited that following this deal more mobile phone users will benefit from the efficiencies and increased network uptimes that will result.”