Libyan firms LapGreen Networks is to pay USD100 million for an 80% stake in state-owned fixed and mobile phone operator Rwandatel, according to a press release. LapGreen has promised to invest USD317 million over 15 years to improve telecoms in Rwanda, including USD87 million during the first twelve months. The Libyan company is owned by Libya Africa Investments Portfolio for Africa, a consortium set up to represent the interests of the Libyan government on the continent, and already has majority holdings in Mali’s Sahelcom and Uganda’s UTL. During the opening of the tendering process in Kigali, representatives of Lap Green promised to set up a borderless network between Uganda’s UTL and Rwandatel. Six companies, including Kuwaiti-owned Zain Group and Jordan’s V-Tel, had initially shown interest in the operator in Rwanda. The shortlist was whittled down to two, and in the final round of negotiations LapGreen beat South Africa’s Vodacom. The Rwandan government will keep the remaining 20% stake in the telco, via the Social Security Fund. An anonymous LapGreen representative said, ‘We are not after profits. Ours is a pan-African spirit.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Rwanda’s mobile market is dominated by MTN Rwanda, owned by the South African MTN Group, which had 486,000 subscribers at the end of June 2007. Please note that all previous reports have indicated that it was only a 70% stake in Rwandatel that was up for sale, even though the latest press release says 80%. TeleGeography have been unable to clarify the matter at this time.