American Tower will launch operations in Kenya through an agreement to acquire up to 723 towers from Telkom Kenya, the companies announced.

Meanwhile the Kenyan operator said it plans to use funds raised to invest in its 4G network and IT platforms to improve services for customers who “demand higher quality and speed from our mobile data networks as well as a richer range of services”.

William Hess, American Tower president of EMEA and Latin America, said Kenya was a “very attractive market and we have high expectations for its long-term growth potential.”

“We are excited to announce the launch of operations in Kenya… this represents American Tower’s seventeenth market globally, and our fifth in Africa, and we look forward to helping expand the reach of mobile broadband,” he added.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2018, subject to regulatory approval. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Last month it was reported Telkom Kenya is planning to merge some of its operations with Airtel Kenya, as a first step before embarking on a full takeover of the India-based operator’s assets in the country.

Combined, the joint entity would be able to compete better with dominant market leader Safaricom. Telkom Kenya operates around 1,581 base stations and Airtel 1,548, bringing a possible combination closer to Safaricom’s 4,000.

Safaricom has a 71 per cent market share in terms of subscribers, way ahead of Telkom Kenya’s 10 per cent, according to GSMA Intelligence. A combined Telkom/Airtel would have an approximate 28 per cent market share.