Helios Towers Tanzania buys Zantel’s mainland tower portfolio

10 August 2017 | Jason McGee-Abe


Helios Towers Tanzania (HTT) has acquired all unique mainland tower sites from Zanzibar Telecom’s (Zantel), growing HTT’s portfolio to 3,700 owned towers.

The acquisition by HTT, the subsidiary of independent telecoms tower infrastructure company Helios Towers Africa (HTA), reaffirms HTA’s commitment to drive increased infrastructure sharing, thereby reducing the costs incurred by mobile operators to deliver vital telecoms services that support economic growth, social development and job creation in local communities.

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HTT is also working with Zantel to decommission the duplicate towers under a separate services agreement, which underscores the strategy to reduce the environmental impact of delivering telecoms services as well as improve operational efficiencies. The acquisition grows HTT’s telecom tower sites in Tanzania to around 3,700 owned towers and further enables HTT to drive cost efficiencies throughout the industry, lower consumer prices and enhance network coverage.

KashPandya - HTA“Helios Towers Africa is proud to announce the successful acquisition of Zantel’s mainland tower portfolio, which enables us to deliver expanded coverage and network capacity in an efficient and cost-effective way,” said Kash Pandya, chief executive officer of HTA.

“The acquisition and the decommissioning of duplicate infrastructure will help operators meet growing consumer demand whist ensuring network expansion is done in a sustainable and responsible way. We are proud to deliver business excellence to our customers and give them access to the vital telecoms infrastructure needed to facilitate the penetration of communications technology across Africa.”

HTA has built a leading position in Tanzania, one of the largest and fastest growing telecommunications markets in Africa with 37% expected growth by 2020. The acquisition, which has received regulatory approval from the Tanzanian authorities, highlights the economic benefits of a telecoms towers company working with multiple operators to combine multiple legacy networks.

In 2013, HTT officially acquired the entirety of Vodacom Group's tower network, consisting of 1,149 towers, in Tanzania. In 2014, Bharti Airtel announced a deal to sell 3,100 telecoms towers in four countries across Africa to HTA in a deal thought to be valued at $500 million. Airtel had acquired Zain's African operations in 2010. In Q1 2016, Bharti Airtel agreed to sell 1,350 base station towers to American Tower in a deal credit rating agency Moody's estimated $200 million

The acquisition will enable HTT’s customers to enhance their network coverage and increase the quality of service provided to the end-user, through the additional sites. It will also facilitate lower consumer prices, in addition to the better coverage, whilst reducing capital, maintenance and operating costs for mobile services providers.

Sherif El-Barbary, CEO of Zantel, added: “Zantel is delighted to announce the sale of its mainland tower portfolio to Helios Towers. This is part of a wide set of transformational initiatives that Zantel has carried out since its acquisition by Millicom group in 2015. With this sale and ongoing relationship with Helios Towers, Zantel will streamline its infrastructure costs and improve the overall efficiency of the market.”

In 2015, Millicom also gained a 24% stake in HTA following a reorganisation of various shareholdings.