Airtel Africa CEO Raghunath Mandava reportedly outlined plans to sell approximately 4,500 towers in five countries, in a move aimed to narrow down its $3.5 billion debt and prepare for upcoming bond repayments.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mandava was cited as stating the operator looked to divest tower assets in Chad, Gabon, Madagascar, Malawi and Tanzania.

The Airtel Africa chief noted the company was continually looking to reduce its debt and it aimed to do so in a quick manner by agreeing tower deals. It also planned to lease back its masts assets from the buyers.

Mandava said the company had already managed to cut down debt after listing in Nigeria and on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2019.

In its latest annual report, released at the end of last month, the operator said its net debt stood at $3.5 billion, significantly down from $7.7 billion at the end of 2018.

It needs to repay €750 million ($890 million) in May 2021 and repay $505 million in March 2023.