Liquid Telecom seals deal for remainder of Rwandatel

3 Jun 2013

Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of South Africa-based Econet Wireless Group, has reportedly concluded a deal to acquire the fixed line assets of insolvent Rwandan operator Rwandatel. AllAfrica quotes insolvency administrator Richard Mugisha as saying that the stricken firm’s PSTN and fibre infrastructure was sold to Mauritius-based Liquid Telecom in a deal worth USD4 million. However, the company opted not to buy most of the land that was also put up for sale. Sam Nkusi, the chairman of Liquid Telecom, commented: ‘Liquid Telecom is delighted that the sale has been finalised as this will immediately result in significant further investment in the network. We have additional investment of USD20 million [set aside] for the next year. Our priority is to quickly rehabilitate the core network and to build out the access network in order to serve Rwanda’s enterprises and residences with the most reliable, high speed, and affordable telecommunications [services]’. He assured existing customers that all of the telco’s services would be continued.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in April 2011 the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) revoked Rwandatel’s wireless concession after a spate of problems, and duly initiated insolvency proceedings against the operator. However, Rwandatel’s fixed telephony and internet service provider (ISP) licences remained operational as the two services are provided under a separate concession. In April 2012 a deal was forged to sell the operator’s mobile tower infrastructure to newly launched cellco Airtel for RWF9.3 billion (USD15.5 million), while the remaining fixed assets were put up for sale in late-April this year.

TeleGeography notes that Liquid’s acquisition of Rwandatel’s fixed assets follows its January purchase of the east African assets of South Africa’s Altech Group, which included ISP Altech Stream Rwanda. At this stage it remains unclear whether the new owner intends to merge the two operations.

Rwanda, Liquid Telecom Group, Rwandatel, Stream Rwanda (formerly Altech)