The Rwanda Regulatory Authority (RURA) has approved the long waited deal between telecom giants, Airtel and Tigo.
Tigo has bagged approximately US$100 million, which will be disbursed in installments, according to sources.
Airtel Rwanda Ltd now officially acquire 100% stake in Tigo Rwanda, a subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular S.A, effective from January 23, 2018, a deal signed by India’s Bharti Airtel with Millicom on December 18, 2017.
Airtel therefore acquires Tigo’s assets, liabilities, loans and any other investments, pending or concluded.
The merged entity will have the largest customer base in Rwanda with 5.9 million subscribers. The combined networks of the two companies will serve customers with voice and data services, global roaming and mobile banking services. It will also have Rwanda’s largest sales and distribution network, leaving MTN Rwanda with only 40% of the market share.
According to RURA, “This acquisition shall not affect the existing subscribers of TIGO Rwanda. They will continue to be served, seamlessly, during and after the consolidation.”
“Subscribers will not be required to change their existing TIGO telephone numbers and existing TIGO cash services will not be affected,” reads the RURA statement.
With a presence in 14 countries across Africa, Airtel is one of the largest telecom service providers on the continent in terms of geographical reach, and had close to 84 million customers at the end of quarter ended December 30, 2017. Globally, Airtel is ranked as the third largest mobile services provider in terms of customer base.
Headquartered in New Delhi, India, Bharti Airtel ranks amongst the top 3 mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers with over 394 million customers across its operations at the end of December 2017.
Mauricio Ramos, CEO of Millicom, said last month that, “The sale of our business in Rwanda is in line with our strategy to focus on providing advanced fixed and mobile data services in Latin America…we are confident that Bharti Airtel will build on the strength of Tigo Rwanda and enhance the services provided to customers.”
Millicom is apparently exiting the African market indefinitely. Taarifa understands that Airtel wanted also to buy the DRC Tigo network, but was outcompeted by Orange who paid a whooping US$170 million.
Note that Tigo entered the Rwandan market in 2009. It had over 3.8million customers by end of 2017. Airtel joined the Rwanda market in 2012.
Figures from RURA show Airtel had 1,628,510 subscribers in October 2017. Both telecoms were preceded by MTN, a South Africa-based multinational mobile telecommunications company, which began its operations in 1998.
Meanwhile, Taarifa has learnt that Rwanda preferred Tigo to be acquired by a new market entrant. However, apart from Econet Telecom and Orange Telecom, Mauritius Telecom was also interested in buying Tigo, but due to its connection with France Telecom, which owns 40% stake, Rwanda allegedly declined any deal between the two parties. Rwanda’s fears are linked with the tragic history between the two countries.