Econet Wireless group is reportedly set to expand its mobile network operations to four additional markets in Africa through the acquisition of Millicom assets, which operates here under the ‘Tigo’ brand.
Econet, founded by Zimbabwean entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa but headquartered in South Africa, has been holding talks with Millicom relating to the acquisition of its four remaining subsidiaries in Africa, where the firm’s Tigo brand still has a presence.
Millicom, on the other hand, is reportedly keen on getting out of the African market altogether to enable it have requisite resources to focus on the Latin American market, where the Tigo brand is currently present in 6 countries – that is Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Costa Rica (where it operates as Tigostar).
“Africa delivered a strong performance in 2016, serving some 25.4 million customers. We stayed focused on improving the all-round performance of our operations there, growing service revenue by 14%, expanding EBITDA margins, controlling capital expenditure and delivering positive operating cash flow. Data revenues and usage have undergone a sharp upturn, with 1.4 million mobile data users added during the year bringing the total to 6.9 million. Our burgeoning B2B service saw 40% growth year on year in 2016, whilst our MFS increased subscriber numbers by 18.4%”, states Millicom in its latest market overview.
“Tanzania is our biggest market. There, we have 11.7 million customers and were the first operator to provide a 4G network in every region. Chad reported revenue growth of 10.1% year on year, with a subscriber base of more than three million. Revenue grew by 12% in our other markets – Rwanda, Ghana and Senegal.”
In February 2017, Millicom announced plans to sell its Senegal operations, but the deal fell through.
According to Mobile Wold Live however, Econet is reportedly keen on acquiring Millicom subsidiaries in Tanzania, Chad, Ghana and Rwanda, and not Senegal.
Econet – which currently has operations in 17 countries – is expanding as part of a bid to attract international investors to fund potential new acquisitions.
In Africa, apart from Zimbabwe, Econet Wireless currently has operations in Burundi (Telecel), Central African Republic (Telecel), South Africa (where it runs a mobile network operator in partnership with Cell C), Lesotho, Botswana (Mascom Botswana), and in Nigeria where it holds a minority stake Airtel Nigeria.