Having newly generated $450 million in funding, Helios Towers has underlined its intention to increase its footprint across Africa.
Speaking to Bloomberg, the tower firm’s CFO Tom Greenwood said that Ethiopia was a highly attractive market to Helios to the extent that it had already approached possible partners to discuss a move into the market.
Ethiopia’s government is breaking up the long-held monopoly of the state-owned incumbent Ethio Telecom by selling a 40% stake in the operator to foreign investors, as well as putting two new licences up for auction. Safaricom recently confirmed its intent to bid for one of these permits.
While Covid-19 has slowed the liberalisation of Ethiopia’s telecoms sector, preparations are now back on track. With new investment and new players on the horizon, Greenwood said that the next five years could see as many as 10,000 new towers required in the market, making it a “very large opportunity” for Helios.
Last week, Helios issued new debt to raise $750 million. While part of this total was designated for paying down its outstanding liabilities, $450 million was earmarked for future expansion.
In addition to Ethiopia, the company is weighing its options in Egypt, Madagascar and Morocco. At present, Helios owns and operates 7000 sites across Africa, with markets including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Tanzania.