Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


MTN to sell SA towers to IHS

Article Image
MTN has found a buyer for its passive tower infrastructure, selling over 5,700 towers in South Africa to IHS Towers for R6.4 billion (US$413 million).

Plans to sell the passive tower infrastructure have been in the works since 2020 and in May 2021 the telco said it had received over 20 expressions of interest from industry players both in South Africa and internationally.

MTN said in a statement on Wednesday that the agreement was reached following a "lengthy competitive process."

The transaction with IHS is a sale and leaseback deal comprised of about 4,000 greenfield and 1,700 rooftop sites. The transaction will also include the outsourcing of power and related services across the entire MTN SA footprint of approximately 12,800 sites incorporating an additional 7,100 third-party sites.

MTN has barter arrangements on approximately 2,000 sites that are not being monetized as part of the IHS deal.

"The Transaction will enable MTN SA to service its retail and wholesale clients more efficiently while creating substantial value, as reflected in the proceeds realised. Proceeds will be reinvested into strategic growth initiatives, such as securing high demand spectrum frequencies, and providing MTN with additional balance sheet flexibility," the group said in an emailed statement.

The operator said the deal will have limited financial impact on MTN SA's current running cost versus leaseback costs; will improved network performance, including improved power management; and will provide flexibility to maximize the benefit of MTN SAs active network sharing - including current roaming agreements in place with Cell C and Telkom.

The transaction, which is still subject to regulatory and other approvals, is part of MTN's ongoing asset realization program. It expects to close the transaction by the first quarter of 2022.

MTN also owns a 29% stake in IHS Towers, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange last month.

Divesting in tower infrastructure is a growing trend in the local telecoms market. Fellow mobile operator Cell C has started migrating its customers to roam on other networks, with plans to get rid of its tower infrastructure in the long term.

Telkom South Africa is making moves to spin off and list its masts and towers business, Swiftnet.

Vodacom is also considering spinning off its tower portfolio into a separate business.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Mario Caruso on Unsplash.

Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


AI's impact on African telcos

Many African telecommunications companies are turning to artificial intelligence as a differentiator to improve their mobile networks and enhance customer service and experience as they transition from traditional telco offerings into new tech-first verticals.


Four AI trends to look out for in 2024

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of four artificial intelligence (AI) trends to look out for on the African continent in 2024.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Upcoming events

AfreGov 2024
March 12-14, 2024
Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Africa Tech Perspectives


Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.


The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: January 2024

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in January 2024 in the Middle East and Africa included a $200 million fintech deal between MTN and Mastercard as well as 5G network trials by Telecom Egypt – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: September 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in September 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included more 5G spectrum licenses, vendor and operator strategies, and partnerships – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id test-002