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Airtel gets K45 billion from tower sells

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Bram Fudzulani

One of the country’s players in the telecommunications sector, Airtel Malawi plc, has realised $55.6million (about K45.8 billion) from the sale of its telecommunications tower company Helios Towers.

Helios Towers is an independent telecommunications infrastructure company with a footprint in Ghana, Senegal, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Madagascar, South Africa and now Malawi.

In an email response to a questionnaire, Airtel Malawi Managing Director Charles Kamoto confirmed the development.

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Kamoto said, under the terms of the transaction, Airtel Malawi will continue to develop, maintain and operate its equipment on the towers under separate lease arrangements, largely made in local currencies, with the purchaser.

“With first closing, $50.6 million of the proceeds of the transaction has now been paid, with the balance payable upon the completion of the transfer of remaining towers to the purchaser.

“We are continuing to invest in Malawi, expanding our coverage and strengthening our network. We are delighted to work with a partner such as Helios, helping to deliver increased connectivity and a positive impact to the communities we operate in,” Kamoto said.

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In an interview, ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) President Bram Fudzulani said the development was in line with Malawi laws, which allow such companies to operate one licence only.

“All mobile phone companies are requested to operate only one license and, therefore, the licence to operate towers must be in the hands of another company, hence the move by Airtel, and this should have a positive bearing on its customers because the hustle of managing the towers is in the hands of another company,” Fudzulani said.

Airtel Africa, a parent company of Airtel Malawi, has been selling tower infrastructure in recent months in other countries.

For example, in January, the company sold its Tanzanian tower assets to SBA Communications Corporation and Paradigm Infrastructure Limited at a consideration price of $176.1 million.

The telco also announced last November that it had sold its telecommunications tower company in Madagascar to Helios Towers plc for $51.7 million.

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