Airtel acquires Rwandatel’s GSM masts for $15.5million
Bharti Airtel, a new entrant in the Rwandan telecom sector, paid $15.5 million (Rwf9.3 billion) to acquire Rwandatel’s GSM Masts, Rwandatel’s administrator, Richard Mugisha, has disclosed to Business Times.
The Indian-based giant was granted the operating licence in September last year and has committed to invest US$100 million (Rwf59.5 billion) in three years.
The multi-million investment package included $30 million (Rwf17.8 billion) to purchase the operating licence. After the latest deal involving acquisition of Rwandatel’s masts, Airtel brings its total investment in the country to $45 million in less than a year.
Rwandatel’s assets are up for grabs after a court decision, last year, placed the beleaguered firm under liquidation.
“Other assets are still up for sale and we are still looking for potential buyers,” Mugisha said.
Remaining assets include data and internet services infrastructure and fixed telephony infrastructure. Early this year, Mugisha disclosed that the former largest stakeholder in the telecom operator, Libya’s LAP Green, lost the chance to reclaim the assets of the company.
Lap Green was among the bidders of Rwandatel’s assets.
Rwandatel’s woes began when its GSM licence was revoked, early last year, by sector regulator RURA, following what the regulator insisted was the failure by the telco to comply with its obligations.
The company was jointly owned by LAP Green Networks, a subsidiary of Libyan African Portfolio, and the former National Social Security Fund of Rwanda (NSSR), with 80 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.
LAP Green is an investment arm mooted and started by the government of former Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, who was ousted and later killed in October last year, during an uprising in the oil rich North African nation.
Bharti Airtel became the third operator after MTN Rwanda, which has 2,892,827 subscribers and TIGO Rwanda with 1,553,367.
MTN Rwanda began operations in 1998, while Tigo, which is owned by Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular SA (MICC), started operations in 2009.
Contact email: saul.butera[at]newtimes.co.rw