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Africa's tech leaders ready to talk spectrum, tower sharing and connectivity

Africa's tech leaders ready to talk spectrum, tower sharing and connectivity

Africa's telecoms, media and technology business leaders will convene at the TMT Finance conference in Cape Town on 15 March to discuss mobile data and services, telecom leadership and convergence, mobile tower strategies, as well as relevant M&A activity.

Companies scheduled to attend include MTN, Vodacom, Econet Wireless, Safaricom, Millicom, Convergence Partners, Standard Bank, MainOne and Rand Merchant Bank, among others.

The event comes at a time of increased activity in areas such as broadband infrastructure investment; mobile tower strategies; and spectrum sharing.

In September 2017 Pan African Towers was reported to be in talks to acquire about 850 towers in Nigeria from local tower companies, with plans to add 1,500 strategically located build-to-suite sites by 2019.

In August 2017, Helios Towers Tanzania (HTT), the Tanzanian subsidiary of independent telecoms tower infrastructure company Helios Towers Africa (HTA), reached an agreement with Zanzibar Telecom (Zantel) for the acquisition of all unique sites of its mainland tower portfolio.

Through the acquisition, HTT said it hopes to grow its telecom tower sites in Tanzania to around 3700 owned towers.

Laura Graves, Managing Director for Africa at Tower Exchange, said that in South Africa, fewer than 10% of the country's 29,500 sites are owned by independent tower companies, with Cell C having been the only operator to have sold its towers (although they are in the process of rebuilding their tower portfolio).

According to Tower Exchange, in Nigeria 77% of the country's 28,241 towers are owned by independent tower companies.

Frost & Sullivan estimates that the mobile network tower industry in Sub-Saharan Africa will be worth approximately US$1.5 billion in the next four years.

Ben Nice, Managing Editor of TMT Finance, said South Africa is a critical hub for investment, M&A, and innovation. "Due to hugely popular demand from our global network, we are delighted to be bringing the TMT Finance franchise to Cape Town in order to meet the increasing demand for infrastructure and services in Africa's flourishing TMT sector."

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