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Helios Towers focuses on Ethiopia opportunity

Ethiopia , 16 Dec 2019

Helios Towers focuses on Ethiopia opportunity

Telecom infrastructure company Helios Towers is understood to be interested in opportunities within the Ethiopian market.

According to the company, Ethiopia will require US$1.5-billion in investment in tower infrastructure over the next five years to meet the demand for additional installations – these will increase the number of telecoms towers in the country to 10,000 within the period.

Helios Towers chief executive officer Kash Pandya and the company's chief financial officer Tom Greenwood have confirmed business interest in Ethiopia's towers market.

Pandya said Helios Towers is interested in buying existing towers owned by Ethio-Telecom if the state-owned operator intends to sell them.

Ethiopia has nearly 8,000 telecoms towers and a standard requirement of 10 square-meter plot per telecom tower.

Since the announcement of its privatisation plans for the telecom sector, the country's government is considering various options for telecom towers including management within Ethio-Telecom, partnership with an independent tower company or a comprehensive sale and leaseback.

Helios Towers is seeking growth opportunities to reinforce its current operations in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Congo Brazzaville.

In October 2019, it was officially listed on the London Stock Exchange at an IPO of 115 pence but has grown by 21.7% to 140 pence on December 12.

According to its third quarter earnings for 2019, adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 16% to US$52.5-million which was a 19th consecutive quarter of adjusted EBITDA growth.

Moreover, the company's nine-month revenue was up 8% to US$288.0-million, and adjusted EBITDA up 16% to US$151.5-million. While quarterly tenant numbers rose by 9% to 14,226 tenants, its sites grew by 5% to 6,903 total sites.

"We continue to focus on driving top-line growth and adjusted Ebitda performance, leveraging the exciting growth in our sub-Saharan markets, our long term client contracts and a sharp focus on operational excellence. The business is performing in-line with our expectations which gives us confidence in the outlook for the full year," Pandya said.

Challenges to tower installations include access to land, electricity, security concerns, and currency repatriation.

To minimise running costs, Pandya said Helios Towers has connected about 90% of its towers to efficient and reliable power supply.

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