The Tanzanian government regained full ownership of Tanzania Telecommunications Corp (TTCL) after reportedly completing its deal to buy back a 35 per cent stake in the operator from Bharti Airtel.
The deal, first announced in May 2015, sees the state take full control of the country’s oldest operator and largest fixed line player, in a move intended to revitalise it with new funds, reported Reuters.
Tanzania is a highly competitive market, with seven operators competing for market share, as mobile smartphone penetration continues to grow. Mobile subscribers in the country rose by 25 per cent last year alone, to hit 39.8 million, according to figures from industry regulator TCRA.
GSMA Intelligence puts TTCL as one of the smallest mobile operators with just over 181,000 connections, significantly behind market leader Vodacom Tanzania (12.4 million) and Bharti Airtel Tanzania (11.3 million connections), the Indian company’s main operations in the country.
Airtel first entered Africa in 2010 after acquiring Zain’s African assets for approximately $10.7 billion, and the deal came with the 35 per cent stake in TTCL, which the government sold in 2001.
The deal to re-buy the stake, worth $7 million according to reports last year, comes after almost six years of negotiations, which have stalled on numerous occasions because of price.