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VENTURES AFRICA – Sub-Saharan telecoms firms like MTN and Sonatel have in recent years disposed of their towers to firms that manage mobile infrastructure like the American Tower Company (ATC) and IHS, according Imara Africa Equity Research.
This, according to the research house, is a trend that is emerging in sub-Saharan Africa as these companies prefer to pay attention to products and services.
In its latest report, Imara Africa has claimed that mobile phone giant MTN sold its towers in Ghana and Uganda to ATC towards the close of 2011 and 2012. In Ghana, MTN sold 1826 base stations for $428 million to a joint venture known as TowerCo Ghana.
In Uganda, MTN sold all of its 1000 towers to the Ugandan joint venture, ATC Uganda, for about $175 million, according to the report. In a deal with IHS, MTN disposed of an additional 1728 towers in Cameroon and Ivory Coast for $284 million towards the end of 2012.
Last December, MTN disposed of 1223 towers in Rwanda and Zambia, also in a transaction with IHS, the report said.
MTN CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa, earlier noted that the sales will free-up management’s time so it can pay more attention on other import strategic things.
Sonatel, which is owned by the French telecoms giant, Orange, has also entered the fray, with the emergence of reports claiming it had been given the mandate of selling its towers. It is understood, according to Imara Africa, that IHS is the likely buyer of these towers.
Sonatel owns over 3000 towers in West Africa, 1600 in Senegal, 1000 in Mali, 400 in Guinea and 85 in Guinea- Bissau. The towers are projected to be worth $500 million.