EAIF telco towers loan delivers infrastructure advances and benefits in Congo Republic
Businesses, consumers and telecoms service providers in the Republic of the Congo (“the Republic” or “Congo Republic”) will benefit from a loan transaction announced today by the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (“EAIF” or “The Fund). EAIF is a direct investment vehicle of the Private Infrastructure Development Group.
EAIF is making a US$43 million loan available to Helios Towers Africa’s (“HTA”) subsidiary in Congo Republic. HTA is one of the leaders in telecommunications infrastructure provision on the continent. It is the fourth time that EAIF has been involved with an HTA expansion project and is the Fund’s first investment in the Republic.
HTA acquired c. 400 telecommunications towers in the Republic from Airtel in 2015. All of the towers are to be refurbished, power supply technology upgraded and visual improvements made. Depending on customer demand, the funding package could see a significant number of new towers built in the country, further enabling the population to communicate using voice and data technologies. HTA operates towers in a number of African Countries. It estimates that satisfying the demand for telecommunications services in Africa will require an additional 100,000 cell sites over the next five years.
David White, chairman of EAIF, says; “Modernising and expanding HTA’s tower infrastructures in the Republic of Congo is as important to economic development today as railway building was 100 years ago. More reliable and more sophisticated digital communications are essential to enterprise, job creation and growth. The contribution to this expansion by HTA is entirely in line with our remit to work with energetic private sector businesses. Every transaction of this kind improves the potential for lasting economic stability and poverty reduction.
I am delighted that for the first time we have made an investment in the Republic of Congo and look forward to more projects there in future.”
Kash Pandya, Chief Executive Officer at HTA, commented: “HTA is delighted that the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund is again helping us grow. EAIF’s involvement is very welcome and we value its commitment to stronger African economies and its professionalism.”HTA operates a tower sharing strategy that allows multiple users to lease capacity. The strategy reduces total costs incurred by service providers in building and maintaining their own towers and allows them to focus on customer service and developing new products.”
The Congo Republic market has potential for substantial growth. The markets for mobile internet and advanced data services are in their early stages. Upgrading the towers will improve network performance and facilitate the rollout of advanced technologies, giving operators stable platforms to introduce new services. Fixed line telephone availability and service quality often falls off sharply outside Africa’s big urban centres. HTA is facilitating the expansion of mobile coverage into rural areas. Growing the stock of phone masts and extending into rural economies opens up opportunities in agriculture, education, health care and tourism. Widening customer bases in rural areas is quicker and cheaper when leasing access to shared towers. Processing plants and other facilities that must have reliable, efficient and competitive telecommunications can for the first time consider a rural location.
The incentive for operators to share towers is also being driven by growing competition between providers. Competition is widening consumer choice and putting downward pressure on prices. It is also thinning profit margins and focussing management efforts on winning customers and tightening cost control. Consequently, tower sharing is growing in popularity. The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund was a co-lender to HTA with UBA, BNP Paribas, FMO and DEG.
For further information about the Private Infrastructure Development Group please visit www.pidg.org
About Helios Towers Africa
- HTA is one of the leading, independent telecommunications towers companies in Africa with over 5000 towers under ownership and management, and a significant build pipelines
- HTA currently operates in Ghana, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo;
- HTA acquires, builds and manages telecom infrastructure, leasing it to operators in Africa. HTA pioneered the sale-leaseback model in Africa, buying towers held by single operators and leasing them back to the seller and multiple other operators simultaneously;
- Both HTA’s model of shared telecoms infrastructure and its scale, help deliver improved efficiency for operators, reduced costs for users and increased accessibility; and
- HTA has been operational since 2009 and its investors include: Helios Investment Partners, Albright Capital Management, RIT Capital Partners, Quantum Strategic Partners Ltd and the International Finance Corporation
Helios Towers Africa media relations: Bell Pottinger
Nick Lambert / Victoria Geoghegan
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