Bharti Airtel is selling off telecom towers in Malawi and Tanzania to dedicated tower firms Helios and Eaton.
Helios Towers will take over around 1000 of Bharti’s Tanzanian towers, while Eaton Towers is acquiring an undisclosed number in Malawi. According to Eaton chief executive Alan Harper, the deals have been signed but not yet closed.
This announcement follows previously announced agreements between Airtel and the two tower firms that saw Helios taking over 3100 towers across 4 African markets, and Eaton buying 3500 towers in 6 unspecified African countries. Before these announcements, Airtel had 15,000 towers in Africa.
Airtel’s offloading of assets is a common trend in Africa, with many operators selling their towers to specialist tower firms then leasing them back. MTN recently sold 9100 towers to its joint venture with IHS, following similar deals in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Zambia.
This business model has numerous cost advantages in markets where electricity supplies can be unreliable and transport infrastructure is an impediment to easy maintenance.