Reuters writes that the Kuwaiti communications group HiTS Telecom is holding talks with mobile operators in Liberia and Tanzania regarding a plan to share mobile towers and launch nationwide services in both countries before the end of 2012. Further, it is understood HiTS Telecom is also interested in acquiring another as yet unnamed African operator. In total, The Kuwait firm is looking to invest USD140 million in the two countries – including USD100 million in Tanzania – its CEO Par Eriksson is quoted as saying, last Thursday. The group already has a small mobile network in Liberia’s main cities ‘something like 25 [cell] sites’ and intends to roll out ‘hundreds of sites’ across Tanzania, he said.
The chief executive confirmed that HiTS Telecom holds four mobile licences in Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (where completion of the network is scheduled for 2013), Equatorial Guinea (where it expects to have 96-97% population coverage by next month), and Liberia and Tanzania. The plan to implement a service in Tanzania has been hit by an ongoing court case with Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei, which was contracted to build HiTS’ network there. Eriksson says that that the firm ‘will continue to be in court with them for a while’, but hopes to resolve this and move on. ‘We won the first case. Huawei came back and sued us for one third or less of the amount. We lost more or less half a year in 2011 because of this,’ Eriksson said. The CEO went on to say that talks over site sharing are taking place with all the big incumbent cellcos and he hopes to conclude a deal with ‘a combination of two’, but is also deploying his own cell sites in Tanzania.