Tanzania acquires Bharti Airtel's stake in TTCL

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Government has bought 35% stake for an estimated $7 million regaining ownership of country's oldest operator

Tanzania has regained complete ownership of Tanzania Telecommunications Corp (TTCL) after completing its buyout of Bharti Airtel’s 35% stake in the company.

The deal, which was first announced in May 2015 and is worth an estimated $7 million according to reports last year, means the Tanzanian government takes full control of the country’s oldest operator.

President John Magufuli has appointed Waziri Kindamba as the new acting chief executive after the completion of the deal, which was sealed after six years of wrangling over price, according to Reuters.

Tanzania is Africa’s second-biggest economy and communications is one of its fastest growing sectors, with seven mobile providers in operation in the country. The number of mobile phone subscriptions in the country rose by 25% in 2015 to 39.8 million, according to the telecom industry regulator.

TTCL was established in 1993, but is one of the smallest mobile operators in the country, according to the GSMA, with just over 181,000 connections, putting it some way behind market leader Vodacom Tanzania (12.4 million) and Bharti Airtel’s other operation (11.3 million connections), which it bought from Zain in 2010.

Airtel has owned the share in TTCL since that $10.7 billion acquisition of Zain’s African assets, after the government sold its original stake in 2001, meaning the stake in the mobile operators has come full circle.

It comes as the government announced plans to issues separate licenses to mobile phone companies running money transfer services.

The unbundling of mobile money from telcos is likely to come in to force next year, according to reports from the country, with Tanzania set to be the first in the region to require separation between money transfer and mobile services.

The directive followed the coming in to force of the National Payment Systems Act 2015 and the Electronic Transactions Act 2015.