More Industry InsightsWho’s who in sub-Saharan African towers

May 6, 2021by myles0

TowerXchange takes a deep dive into the African tower industry, providing the most comprehensive directory to date of the key MNOs, towercos, infracos, investors and ESCOs active in the market.

9mobile: Nigerian MNO, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria which was rebranded following a takeover by a consortium of banks after defaulting on loan repayments. The operator was in the process of being acquired with Teleology Holdings, but that deal is off.

African Infrastructure Investment Managers: Joint venture between Macquarie and Old Mutual with capital at work in IHS.

African Towers: Ghanaian towerco which owns 209 macro towers. The company has also deployed DAS at around 50 sites, including in major airports in the country.

Africell: African MNO with a presence in the DRC, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Gambia (being market leaders in the latter two). Africell recently acquired a mobile license in Angola and expects to begin operations in the second half of 2021. The company is yet to sell any towers although did take over Orange’s operations in Uganda, where Orange had previously sold their towers to Eaton. To roll out their network in the DRC, Africell built few towers, choosing instead to co-locate on Helios’ existing portfolio. 

African Mobile Networks: Rural towerco with an interesting business model that combines active and passive infrastructure, with AMN funding the capex and sharing revenue for sites. AMN currently operates more than 1,400 base stations in nine countries with the company set to enter three more markets and reach 2,000 sites in 2020, with funding in place to take their site count to 5,000 sites in a two and a half year period. In August of this year, AMN completed the acquisition of RAN equipment vendor Range Networks, enabling them to develop their own equipment.

Airtel: African subsidiary of Indian operator, Bharti Airtel with a presence in 14 African countries and having sold towers in ten of these (figure 1). The company has sold towers to each of the big four African towercos (with Eaton Towers since acquired by American Tower), divesting their portfolios to Helios in the DRC and Congo B, to American Tower in Nigeria, to IHS in Rwanda and Zambia and to Eaton in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Kenya and Uganda.

The operator has twice agreed the sale of their Tanzanian towers, firstly to Helios and then to American Tower, however both deals were cancelled. The MNO now retains towers in five markets, namely Tanzania, Chad, Madagascar, Malawi and Gabon. In the latter, Airtel has an ESCO contract in place with Energy Vision. Whilst Airtel had examined the ESCO model for its other opcos, the economics on offer were not favourable to the operator and so Airtel has abandoned further ESCO plans, favouring renewal of their managed service contracts instead.

Figure 1: Airtel’s tower ownership and transactions across its 14 African markets

Aktivco: Camusat’s ESCO which has signed four contracts; three with Orange in Niger, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire and a fourth with Millicom in Chad. The company has around 2,000 towers under ESCO management in SSA with plans to increase this to 10,000 in the next four years.

Albright Capital Management: Chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Albright is an investor and advisory firm dedicated to the emerging markets and an investor in Helios Towers.

Al Karama Towers: Newly formed Senegalese towerco, backed by M&A Capital, in the process of acquiring Expresso Telecom’s 625 sites in the country (up from 450 sites at the time of the deal’s announcement). The sale and leaseback transaction also includes first right of refusal on new build for Expresso. Al Karama Towers has plans to expand into further West African markets, having entered high level discussions with MNOs in at least two other countries.

American Tower: TThe world’s largest independent towerco with a global tower count over 180,000. The towerco has completed seven tower transactions of scale in sub-Saharan Africa, with the acquisition of Eaton Tower’s 5,510 sites the latest deal (figure 2). As of Q2 2020, American Tower has 18,872 towers in seven African markets.

The company continues to undertake new build across its markets and whilst figures separating new build from small scale acquisitions and decommissioning activities are not available, the net increase is in the hundreds across their markets. One can take this as a rough proxy for the number of new towers built.

The company has begun to explore opportunities and business models beyond macrosites in Africa, reporting 23 owned DAS sites in Ghana, which will be added to Eaton’s 50+ DAS systems. It also acquired fibre player Frogfoot in South Africa, leasing capacity to communications and internet service providers as well as third party operators.

Figure 2: American Tower’s major acquisitions in Africa

Figure 3: American Tower’s sub-Saharan African portfolio

ANTOSC: Angola’s first towerco in which managed service provider Anglobal has a 35% share. The towerco was formed in response to new legislation introduced in 2016, preventing new towers being built in close proximity to existing sites and thus mandating MNOs to share infrastructure in order to expand their networks. ANTOSC currently has a portfolio of 18 sites. The towerco is targeting 400 sites in the next three years.

Atlas Tower: African towerco, which also has a presence in the US market, which has focussed its business model around organic rather than inorganic growth. In South Africa, Atlas has been the country’s fastest growing towerco and in 2019, SBA Communications acquired 94% of the business. SBA now reports Atlas Tower’s South African towers on its balance sheet (967 sites as of Q2 2020) but will continue to use the Atlas brand until October 2021. Atlas Tower ex-SA remains independent and has invested in Kenya and Botswana.

BCTek Engineering: Nigerian towerco with a 20 year contract to manage and market a portfolio of 700 towers originally built as a surveillance network, over 80% of which are police compounds.

Blackstone: Serial towerco investor currently working with Phoenix Tower International. Blackstone has previously evaluated investment opportunities in one of Africa’s privately owned towercos.

Blue Sky Towers: Privately owned towerco with a portfolio of 100 sites in South Africa, with 200 additional sites in the medium term pipeline. Part of Merlin Project Services, an MSP which has been operating in the country for 18 years.

Capital Group Private Markets: Private equity fund focus on emerging markets with a diverse portfolio. Major shareholder in Eaton Towers, prior to Eaton’s acquisition by American Tower.

The Carlyle Group: Private equity and alternative asset management firm with money at work in Indonesian towers. Yet to invest in Africa.

Cell C: South African operator who monetised their towers back in 2010 with a sale to American Tower. Cell C maximised upfront capital in their deal with the towerco in order to raise capital for rollout and to grab market share, but in doing so agreed a high leaseback rate which the company has been unhappy with. Cell C have since made their decision to rebuild their portfolio, agreeing a build-operate-transfer arrangement with Proef Group’s International Tower Corporation and using sites of other smaller towercos.

Citi: One of the world’s leading tower transaction advisory groups can be found in the TMT team at Citi.

Coast to Coast: One of South Africa’s smaller independent towercos with a portfolio of 38 towers.

Comco: Small South African towerco.

Communication Towers Nigeria: Nigerian towerco which claims to have 500 cell sites across all 36 states. 

Connect Africa: Company focussed on bringing connectivity to rural areas in Africa. Most recently Connect Africa has deployed a series of Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas across Zambia. These base stations costs less than $10,000 and are partly funded by advertising.  Connect Africa has over 200 sites deployed successfully with three operators.

Convergence Partners: Firm focussed on early-stage investments in the African TMT sector. Had looked at an investment in the tower industry a few years ago.

CREI: ieng Group’s ESCO business unit.

CSquared: Pan-African fibreco with a footprint in Uganda, Ghana and Liberia and an appetite for geographical expansion.

Dark Fibre Africa: South African open access fibreco in which Remgro are majority shareholders. Have an interest in exploring new business models with towercos.

Delta Partners: Leading TMT consultant and investment advisory company with extensive global expertise in the tower industry.

Development Partners International: Private equity fund focussed on Africa which had money at work in Eaton Towers prior to their sale to American Tower.

Digital Colony(formerly Digital Bridge): Digital Colony is one of the world’s largest dedicated digital infrastructure investment firms with over US$20 billion in assets under management. Launched in 2017 by Digital Bridge and Colony Capital, Digital Colony brings together Digital Bridge’s industry, operational and investment expertise, and Colony Capital’s (NYSE: CLNY) global operating platform and capital markets access. Digital Colony is a leading investor, owner and operator enabling the next generation of mobile and internet connectivity through investments in mission-critical infrastructure around the globe. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London and Singapore, the firm closed its first discretionary fund dedicated solely to investing in digital infrastructure with approximately US$4.1 billion in commitments in 2019.

Distributed Power Africa: Econet’s in-house ESCO which is also offering solar power solutions to sectors beyond telecoms. Distributed Power Africa currently has 1500 sites under ESCO management.

Eagle Towers: Private towerco with a portfolio of 50 towers in South Africa.

Eaton Towers: Towerco which had built a portfolio of over 5,000 sites across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Uganda and South Africa. In 2016, Eaton reached a deal to sell its South African business to American Tower, and then in 2019, American Tower acquired the rest of Eaton’s operations.

Econet: Major TMT conglomerate which is Zimbabwe’s largest operator, with a footprint also in Burundi and Lesotho. The company had considered the formation of an internal towerco, although plans are yet to move forward. Econet has recently formed their own in-house ESCO, Distributed Power Africa which not only intends to supply power to their towers but is also providing solar power to other commercial and industrial sectors in Zimbabwe. Econet is also the parent company of pan-African fibreco, Liquid Telecom.

Eighty Four Dynamics: Newly formed Zimbabwean towerco whose sister company has over eight years experience constructing tower sites for the major operators in Zimbabwe.

Emerging Capital Partners: Private equity fund focussed on Africa; investors in IHS.

Energy Vision: Pioneers of the ESCO model in sub-Saharan Africa, having signed the continent’s first ESCO contract of scale with Airtel Gabon, based on a fixed energy business model with a nine year term. Energy Vision has now taken on all 280 allocated sites in Gabon, successfully delivering against a 99.99% uptime service level agreement (12 month average). The company has also been awarded responsibility for management of all passive elements of the sites including towers, fences and structures. Energy Vision is technology agnostic with an appetite for further ESCO projects on the continent.

Ethos Private Equity: Private equity firm which had money at work in Eaton Towers prior to the towerco being sold to American Tower.

Expresso Telecom: Tier two MNO Expresso with a footprint in Sudan, Ghana, Guinea, Mauritania and Senegal has agreed their first tower sale, announcing a SLB agreement with Al Karama Towers for their 625 towers in Senegal (although the deal is yet to close).

Figure 4: Estimated tower count of Expresso Telecom

FMO: Dutch development bank 51% government owned, 49% by commercial banks and financial institutions. Have invested in African towercos.

Frogfoot: South African licensed open access fibre network provider in (funded by Rand Merchant Bank, Investec and Metier Capital) which has signed a partnership agreement with American Tower in the country.

Gabon Telecom: See Maroc Telecom.

Globacom: Operator with a footprint in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire which has shied away from infrastructure sharing and tower deals in spite of the presence of towercos in its home markets.

GreenWish Partners: ESCO which has signed an ESCO contract with Orange in the DRC, with Sagemcom as operational partners.

Gyro Towers: South African MNO Telkom’s carve out towerco which owns a portfolio of 6,500 sites which is is reputedly looking to monetise.

Hardiman Telecommunications: A unique consultancy equally capable advising on engineering and operational issues as they are on commercial strategy and corporate finance. Extensive experience advising on both the buy-side and sell-side in tower transactions.

Helios Investment Partners: Investment firm making private equity investments in Africa, with a primary focus on the sub-Saharan region. Helios’ portfolio companies operate in 35 African countries across a range of industry sectors, with telecom infrastructure and services playing an important part. Founder investors in Helios Towers (having since exited their investment following Helios’ IPO) and previous investors in HTN Towers (prior to the towerco’s sale to IHS).

Helios Towers: Africa’s third largest towerco, the company completed its first major tower transaction in 2010, acquiring 750 towers from Tigo in Ghana and have since completed six further major tower transactions establishing a footprint in South Africa, Congo Brazzaville, Tanzania and the DRC. The company has added a seventh major deal and sixth country to its belt, announcing the acquisition 1,220 towers from Free Senegal in 2020. The first towerco to enter each of its jurisdictions, the company remains the sole towerco in the Tanzania and soon Senegal, but has been joined by AMN in DRC and Congo B, and possesses a strong urban presence in Ghana where it competes with American Tower. The company now owns a total of 6,533 towers across the five countries (figure 8), having added build-to-suit towers and smaller bolt-on acquisitions to its portfolio. In 2019, Helios entered South Africa, acquiring 100 sites, SA Towers, also reaching an agreement with fibreco, Vulatel, in the country. Helios has recently announced a major project in the DRC, building a 1,800km backbone network incorporating 80-100m high towers approximately 40km apart. In 2019 the company completed its IPO process.

Figure 5: A history of Helios Towers’ major tower transactions 

Figure 6: Helios Towers’ African portfolio

Hotspot Network: Nigerian towerco which build a network of 160 sites through build to suit contracts with Airtel and Etisalat. The towerco recently sold 85 of its towers to IHS. Sold roughly half of its portfolio to IHS back in 2016.

HTN Towers: One of the first towercos in Africa, HTN Towers (formerly Helios Towers Nigeria) built a portfolio of 1,211 towers in Nigeria before being acquired by IHS Towers in 2016. HTN Towers also signed a management with license to lease contract with SWAP Telecoms & Technologies which was transferred to IHS upon IHS’ acquisition of the towerco. The contract is understood to have since been cancelled.

IHS Towers: Towerco with the largest African portfolio, totalling 25,130 towers across Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Zambia, Rwanda and Nigeria (figure 8), with over 60% of its towers in the latter. The towerco has completed transactions with Airtel (Rwanda & Zambia), Etisalat (Nigeria), Orange (MLL arrangement in Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire) and MTN (in all five countries); in 2016 IHS also acquired rival Nigerian towerco HTN Towers and their 1,211 sites (figure 7).
The company also has a presence in Kuwait, Brazil, Colombia and Peru taking its total global tower count to 27,473 sites.
Privately owned, IHS’ investors include MTN with a 29% stake, Wendel and the IFC although in August 2020 it was an announced that the towerco was exploring a potential IPO.

Figure 7: A history of IHS Towers’ major tower transactions in Africa

Figure 8: IHS Towers’ African tower portfolio

Infratel: Rural infraco in the DRC whose equipment is on 800 cell sites.

International Finance Corporation (IFC): The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group, the world’s leading DFI. The IFC has invested around half a billion dollars in debt and equity into eight towercos across emerging markets and is an investor in IHS.

International Tower Corporation: Part of Proef Group, South African towerco which is working with Cell C to rebuild their tower portfolio under a build-operate-transfer model.

Intrepid Advisory Partners: Advisory firm established by Daniel Lee which advised on 11 of the first 13 tower deals to close in Africa.

IPT PowerTech: Telecom ESCO which participated in IHS’ ‘Big Five’ project in Nigeria and recently signed an ESCO contract with Orange in Guinea. Further deals are expected from this ambitious ESCO.

IPX Extenso: Rural towerco which has developed a platform bringing together low CAPEX infrastructure and low-OPEX airtime. The company is in the process of deploying its first full platform model. Expect an announcement soon.

Lap GreenN: Operator who has tried to monetise towers in Uganda but has been hindered by trading restrictions placed on the Libyan owned parent. The company also has a presence in Sierra Leone and South Sudan.

Liquid Telecom: Pan-African fibreco which is part of the Econet Group. Liquid Telecom also owns Africa Data Centres which has data centres in South Africa and Kenya.

Macquarie Group: Serial towerco investors, with capital at work in Russian Towers, Axicom (formerly Crown Castle Australia) and Mexico Tower Partners and Viom Networks (now part of ATC India). Macquarie also has an excellent TMT advisory practice with experience of advising on tower transactions.

Maroc Telecom: Moroccan headquartered MNO in which Etisalat has a 53% stake. Has expressed little interest in divesting their towers to date and remains conservative in regards to infrastructure sharing. In addition to their presence in Morocco, Maroc Telecom has strong West African presence, having opcos in nine African countries (figure 10) where it operates under the brands Moov (Benin, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Togo), Onatel (Burkina Faso) Sotelma (Mali) Mauritel (Mauritania) and Gabon Telecom (Gabon).

Figure 9: Maroc Telecom’s African presence

Mauritel: See Maroc Telecom.

Millicom/ Tigo: Millicom undertook the first pioneering tower transactions with Helios Towers in Ghana, DRC and Tanzania from 2010-11, but the group hasn’t done a SSA tower deal since. Millicom owns, and is in the process of selling, the 24% stake it acquired in Helios Towers following the transactions.

The operator has recently sold opcos in Senegal (to a consortium involving NJJ, Sofima and Teyliom Group) and Rwanda (to Airtel) after having previously sold its DRC operations to Orange back in 2016. Their Chad opco was sold to Maroc Telecom, and their Ghana opco merged with Airtel.

In Chad, Millicom had signed its first agreement with an ESCO, handing over management of power on its sites to Camusat’s Aktivco. In Tanzania the company has recently entered into a RANsharing agreement with the two other MNOs to increase coverage in rural areas. Rumours have emerged that Millicom may look to sell its two remaining African opcos, with Econet understood to have an expressed an interest in at least one of them.

Figure 10: Millicom’s African tower deals, ESCO contracts and opco sales

Moov: See Maroc Telecom.

MTN: MTN, with a presence in 17 African countries, has monetised their towers in seven – representing the majority of their most attractive portfolios. The company has raised around US$2.5bn to date and retained equity in selected markets. MTN commenced their passive infrastructure monetisation strategy in 2010-11 with the formation of joint venture towercos with American Tower in Ghana and Uganda, in which MTN retained 49% equity (with American Tower having since bought out MTN’s stake). This was then followed up with sale and leasebacks of 100% of the equity in their towers in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda and Zambia – this time with IHS as the counterparty. In Nigeria, MTN formed a joint venture with IHS in which it retained a non-controlling 51% stake. In February 2017, MTN exchanged its 51% stake in the joint venture for additional shareholding at IHS group level, taking its equity stake in IHS Holdings from 15% to 29% and simplifying its ownership structure in the process.

MTN’s most significant portfolio they retain in Africa is South Africa where the operator has approximately 10,500 towers (the company’s Iranian opco, MTN-Irancell also has a portfolio of 13,000 towers in Iran). Beyond this, MTN’s smaller portfolios are yet to attract the interest of towercos and the operator is reportedly considering the ESCO model in such markets to rid themselves of the main operational complexity of managing the towers.

Figure 11: MTN’s history of tower sales

Oceanic Infrastructure: Kenyan towerco.

Onatel: See Maroc Telecom.

Orange: Orange has a presence in 14 Sub-Saharan African markets but has only entered into tower deals in three, signing an MLL arrangement with IHS Towers in Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire and selling 300 towers to Eaton in Uganda (before then selling their opco to Africell). With towercos present however in a total of six of their markets, Orange does lease space from independent towercos, whilst also sharing sites with operators.

Orange has been a pioneer of the ESCO model in Sub-Saharan Africa and has signed contracts in the DRC (with GreenWish Partners and Sagemcom as their operational partner), in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso (with Camusat’s Aktivco) and in Guinea Conakry (with IPT PowerTech). The operator has also confirmed that it has issued ESCO RFPs in Madagascar, Egypt, Mali, Liberia, Cameroon and Central African Republic.

Figure 12: Orange’s tower ownership and ESCO contracts in Africa

Figure 13: Breakdown of Orange’s tower ownership and site usage in Sub-Saharan Africa (Q1 2019)

Pan African Towers: Towerco with 1,300 sites in Nigeria and 300 in Ghana with further extensive new build planned. In Nigeria, the company has Airtel, 9mobile, Smile and some small broadband companies as tenants, expecting to sign up with MTN in the latter half of 2018. The company’s business model is predicated on leases being denominated in local currency.

PowerCom: PowerCom, owned by MNO Telecom Namibia, is Namibia’s first dedicated infrastructure player. Managing a portfolio of 311 towers, the company has ambitions to integrate further assets into its portfolio.

Pro High Site Communications: South African towerco with a portfolio of eleven towers.

Pula Towers: Botswana’s first towerco which has a focus on both macro towers and in building solutions.

RIT Capital Partners: Chaired by Lord Rothschild, RIT Capital Partners is an investment trust, listed on the London Stock Exchange with a widely diversified portfolio, including an investment in Helios Towers.

Safaricom: Kenyan MNO, possessing Vodacom as a shareholder, dominates the Kenyan mobile market. Whilst the company considers its towers too strategic to sell, Safaricom has for some time been swapping or leasing their tower portfolio, by far Kenya’s largest and most extensive, to MNOs and other tenants. The company has recently begun offering power as a service to its tenants.

SEALTowers: Start-up Kenyan towerco focussed on low cost compact tower site solutions and hybrid power innovations.

SENTECH: South African broadcast towerco with a portfolio of 340 sites.

Sky Coverage: South African towerco with an undisclosed tower count.

Smile: LTE pioneer, Smile, with a presence in major cities in the DRC, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda rely primarily on co-location on third party towers in order to rollout their network.

Sonatel: See Orange.

Soros: Quantum Strategic Partners (QSP) is a private investment vehicle, managed by Soros Fund Management LLC. QSP focuses globally on investments in several strategies, including capital-intensive start-ups, buyouts, and growth equity transactions. Investors in Helios Towers.

Sotelma: See Maroc Telecom.

SWAP Telecoms & Technologies: Another claimant to the title of Africa’s first towerco, Nigerian towerco SWAP acquired the towers of Multilinks’ CDMA competitor Starcomms back in 2010. After the loss of their anchor tenant, SWAP struggled to generate revenues and after speculation over a merger between competitor towerco, HTN Towers and SWAP, the two reached an agreement whereby HTN would manage, market and lease space on the SWAP towers. This agreement was passed on to IHS Towers following their acquisition of HTN Towers, with 368 of their 702 understood to be live. It has been reported that IHS has since given notice to tenants on a number of SWAP towers with a view to decommissioning sites and moving tenants onto existing IHS owned sites. Since then Pan African Towers have taken over 300 SWAP towers on a MLL basis.

Telkom Kenya: Kenyan operator sold 723 towers to American Tower. The operator had previously entered into a management with license to lease agreement with Eaton Towers back in 2013, only for the deal to be cancelled nine months later. In February 2019 it was announced that third placed Telkom Kenya was to merge with second place Kenyan operator, Airtel to create a sizeable competitor to market leaders Safaricom. In August 2020, it was reported that the merger was off.

Telkom South Africa: South African MNO with under 5% mobile market share in the country (Q4, 2017). Telkom had an on/off tower sale but in 2017 announced the formation of their own towerco, Gyro Towers to maximise the profitability of their sites.

Tigo: See Millicom.

Tilmann Global Holdings: Investor with broad appetite for towerco investments anywhere from early stage opportunities (where the company has been involved in build to suit programs with Eaton Towers in Africa (prior to Eaton’s acquisition by American Tower) and Apollo Towers in Myanmar) to sale and leasebacks in mature markets of thousands of sites.

TMCEL: Mozambican state owned telco formed by the merger of fixed-line TDM and MNO mCel. mCel had previously appointed Barclays to oversee a sale of its ~1,000 towers in a bid to reduce debt but the deal stalled following limited interest from towercos.

TowerCo of Madagascar (TOM): The only towerco in Madagascar, Towerco of Madagascar (TOM) have a portfolio of over 1,200 sites in the country (Q3 2019).

The company is part of the Axian Group of companies, owned by Hassanein Hiridjee, which also includes TELMA (the number one operator in Madagascar) and EDM, the national electricity company. TOM has further extended its presence into the Indian Ocean managing towers from the Axion Group after the group acquired the mobile branch of Outremer Telecom in La Reunion and Mayotte and the second mobile license in Comoros.

The company is extensively reviewing alternative energy options, including the pilot of a wind project in Madagascar.

Unitel: Largest of Angola’s MNOs with two thirds of the market share in the country and a portfolio of 1,700 sites.

Viettel: Africa’s most aggressive new entrant, Vietnamese military backed Viettel had initially seemed reluctant to accelerate time to market by leveraging co-location. However they have since reached co-location agreements with IHS in Cameroon (where they operate as Nexttel) and Helios Towers in Tanzania (where they operate as Halotel), the latter of whom attracted ~1,000 co-locations. The company also has a footprint in Mozambique (Movitel) and Burundi (Lumitel). Viettel had expressed an interest in the Nigerian market and was previously linked to the 9mobile sale.

Vodacom: Multinational MNO with a presence in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho and a controlling stake in Safaricom in Kenya. (In North Africa, Vodafone has a presence in Egypt). Apart from an early ‘manage with license to lease’ (MLL) deal in Ghana with Eaton Towers (transferred to American Tower following American Tower’s acquisition of Eaton) and the sale of 1,149 Tanzanian towers to Helios Towers Africa in 2013 (where Vodacom acquired a 24.5% stake in Helios Towers Tanzania, a stake which Helios has since purchased), Vodacom consider their tower assets too strategic to divest (in Europe, Vodacom’s parent company Vodafone has created their own towerco, Vantage Towers). Both Vodacom South Africa and Safaricom run in-house towercos, actively pursuing co-locations on their existing sites.

Figure 14: Vodacom’s African footprint and history of tower sales

Voltalia: Major energy player offering an ESCO solution to the telecom sector. Voltalia has signed an ESCO contract with Myanmar towerco, MNTI and has an appetite for projects in the African market.

Vulatel: South African fibreco which has recently reached a partnership agreement with Helios Towers.

Wendel: Family fund, leading investor in IHS.

Source: Tower Exchange

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