30 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Liquid Telecom Spreads Wings

Econet Wireless-owned fibre and satellite operator Liquid Telecom has become Africa's largest operator of terrestrial cross-border fibre optic networks after acquiring all the East Africa businesses of South African technology giant Altech.

Altech announced in a statement on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Monday that it had offloaded its East African businesses to Liquid Telecom in exchange for an 8,6 percent stake in Liquid Telecom and 10 percent shareholder voting rights.

In addition to the assets, Altech would also subscribe a further US$16,5 million for the stake. Reports on the deal have attributed the move by Altech to dispose of its East African assets to network instability and reliability issues as well as the depreciating value of some currencies in East Africa.

According to Altech, Liquid Telecom already operates an extensive network in Southern and Central Africa, providing services to telecoms operators, large corporations, banks and Internet service providers.

The deal allows Liquid to extend its footprint into Eastern Africa by adding Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Liquid also operates an extensive satellite-based network across Africa, providing connectivity to remote businesses.

"With more and more undersea cables reaching the African coastline, Liquid has positioned itself over the last few years as the builder of a network to connect the hinterland of the continent connecting many landlocked countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and the DRC, often laying thousands of kilometres of fibre along highways and also on power lines," Altech said.

The company works mostly with contractors from China. Major telecoms operators on the continent have often preferred to outsource their requirements to this highly specialised operator rather than build their own.

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