Millicom completes move out of Africa as it sells Tanzania

Millicom completes move out of Africa as it sells Tigo Tanzania and Zantel

19 April 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Millicom is now entirely a Latin American operator following today’s disposal of its last African interest, Tigo Tanzania.

The group said this morning that it has agreed to sell its entire operations in Tanzania to a consortium led by Axian, a Madagascar group that was part of the consortium that acquired Millicom’s operations in Senegal in 2018.

Axian said this morning that it was leading a consortium regarding the sale of Millicom’s shares in both Tigo Tanzania and Zantel in Zanzibar.

CEO Hassanein Hiridjee commented: “Thanks to this agreement with Millicom, Axian is starting a new chapter in Tanzania and in Zanzibar for the long term. We are convinced that the Axian model will accelerate the digital inclusion and open access to innovative services for the clients while supporting economic growth. We are very excited by this new challenge.”

The deal includes strategic ownership in the EASSy cable landing station in Dar Es Salaam and a consortium network with over 3,200km of backbone and over 600km of metro fibre.

The Axian-led alliance said it plans “to significantly increase the coverage of Tigo Tanzania and Zantel, especially for 4G network” and to “extend access to affordable mobile services and accelerate digitalisation in the territory”.

Axian said Millicom Tanzania’s mobile financial services is the second largest nationwide and third largest platform globally with 6.6 million users, connecting with 49 banks in Tanzania.

Millicom CEO Mauricio Ramos commented: “With today’s announcement that we are divesting our remaining African businesses, we close a chapter in our history and open another solely focused on the Latin American region.”

The Luxembourg-headquartered group had gradually disposed of all its African interests over the past few years. Last October it agreed to sell its Ghanaian operation, a joint venture with India’s Bharti Airtel, to the government for just under US$25 million. 

In 2016 Orange bought Millicom’s unit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for $160 million. The following year Airtel itself bought Millicom’s Rwanda unit.

Millicom, which has historical connections wtih Swedish institutional investors such as Kinnevik, said today that it will take a $25 million charge as a result of the agreement to dispose of its Ghanaian interests.

Ramos said: “Today Tigo is a leading provider of broadband services to consumers, businesses and governments in Latin America, where penetration and data speeds remain low by the standards of more mature markets. Through our investment-led strategy, we are bringing reliable high-speed mobile and fixed broadband to the communities we serve in the region.”

Two years ago Liberty Latin America called off a bid to buy Millicom’s interests in the region for a reported $7.6 billion. Miami-based Ramos himself was president for 15 years of what was then Liberty Global’s Latin American division until 2015, when he moved to Millicom and increasingly moved the company’s attention away from Africa.

According to its website, Millicom now has operations in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay, offering mobile, broadband and pay-TV services.