MTN Group and Liquid Telecom buddy up to extend African footprint

25 Aug 2015

Liquid Telecom and MTN Group today announced that the two companies have partnered to jointly offer customers access to the largest fixed and wireless footprint across the African continent. In a press release, Liquid Telecom – which describes itself as the leading independent data, voice and IP provider in eastern, central and southern Africa – said the tie-up is, in part, a response to rising demand from business users across West Africa for its broadband services. Under the deal, which includes wholesale, carrier-to-carrier, broadband access, enterprise and fixed data services, the two firms will be able to access one another’s fixed and wireless networks, even in countries where one party may not yet have a presence. In a statement heralding the plan, Nic Rudnick, CEO of Liquid Telecom Group, said: ‘We have a well-deserved reputation in East, Central and Southern Africa, for providing quality broadband to businesses. We are laying 100km of new fibre every week but have decided to partner for the time being in West Africa so that we can immediately meet demand from businesses there.’ As such, the deal allows Liquid Telecom to deliver gigabit-speed services in the following countries: Benin, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan and Swaziland. In turn, MTN Group will be able to better serve its multinational enterprise customers in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The South Africa-based giant says the agreement ‘reaffirms its commitment to enable and inspire the growth of its enterprise customers across Africa and the rest of the world’.

Liquid Telecom’s fibre network spans 20,000km across Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe and is complemented by satellite services serving rural areas. Meanwhile, MTN boasts an extensive connectivity footprint, with points of presence (PoP) for its Global MPLS network in 22 countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti, UK, Netherlands, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Uganda, Ghana, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Cyprus, Benin, Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana.

In an unrelated development, Bloomberg reports that MTN Group has entered into talks with mobile tower operator IHS Holding concerning plans to divest tower assets worth up to USD2 billion. According to an unnamed source familiar with the matter, discussions between the two parties could result in the setting up of a joint venture in which Johannesburg-based MTN would retain ‘a large stake’. Previously, another tower operator – American Tower Corporation – expressed interest in buying the MTN assets to shore up its position in the region that is also contested by Helios Towers Africa. Bridget Bhengu, a spokeswoman for MTN South Africa, declined to comment.

Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Rep., Côte d'Ivoire, Eswatini, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Liquid Intelligent Technologies (LIT), MTN Group