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Airtel offloads 3,500 towers to Eaton

Mobile data use in Africa is growing fast

The outsourcing of cell tower management continues apace in Africa as Bharti Airtel on Monday agreed to offload over 3,500 telecom towers to emerging markets management company Eaton Towers.

Under the deal, Airtel will sell and lease back over 3,500 towers to Eaton in six countries across its
African operations under a ten year contract. Financial details were not disclosed.

Airtel said the move is part of its strategy to drive cost efficiencies throughout use of shared passive infrastructure, allowing the company to focus on its core business and customers, reduce debt and significantly reduce its on-going capital expenditure on passive infrastructure.

Manoj Kohli, Chairman, Bharti Airtel International Netherlands BV (BAIN), said: “We are the pioneers and strong proponents of telecoms infrastructure sharing, which results in industry-wide cost efficiencies. The agreement with Eaton Towers is an extension of this philosophy and will lead to far superior utilisation of passive infrastructure and help drive the proliferation of affordable mobile services across Africa.”

In July, Airtel divested 3,100 telecom towers to Helios Towers Africa for an undisclosed sum as part of the same strategy. Local reports suggest the company is looking to offload around 15,000 towers in deals that could raise as much as $2bn.

For Eaton Towers, the acquisition is a major step towards the scale needed to provide shared telecoms infrastructure across the region. The company now has coverage in seven countries in Africa with over 5,000 towers.

The 2nd annual LTE Africa conference is taking place on the 11th-13th November 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Click here to download the brochure for the event.


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