Bharti Airtel agreed to sell 1,100 towers in Zambia and Rwanda to specialist player IHS Holding, as part of its move to divest its African infrastructure assets.
Under the agreement, Airtel will lease the towers back for 10 years, after which the agreement could be renewed. This is the first such agreement between the companies.
The deal aims to enable Airtel to focus on its core business and customers, as well as reduce debt and ongoing capital expenditure on infrastructure in African markets.
Christian de Faria, MD and CEO for Bharti Airtel’s African operations, said the agreement will “accelerate infrastructure sharing amongst operators and benefit customers in the form of affordable tariffs and wider network coverage”.
The deal is subject to regulatory approval in both countries, with no financial details revealed.
In November, Airtel agreed to offload more than 4,800 masts in Nigeria to American Tower with the operator group as an ‘anchor tenant’ for a ten year period.
The deal came shortly after Airtel reportedly agreed to sell mobile phone towers in Tanzania and Malawi to Helios Towers and Eaton Towers.
The latest deal will give IHS a footprint of more than 21,000 towers across five countries (Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia and Rwanda), boosting its efforts to achieve the scale needed to provide shared telecoms infrastructure in Africa.
At the beginning of November the tower player announced that it had raised $2.6 billion in capital to use for acquisitions and to fund the building of new tower sites to expand its footprint.