Millicom's Tigo plans $120M network investment in Tanzania

Tigo Tanzania, which is owned by Sweden-based Millicom International Cellular, unveiled plans to spend $120 million (€110 million) this year on the expansion of its network for 3G and 4G services in the East African country.

In an interview with Reuters, the country's number three mobile operator said the investment--which is 20 per cent higher than the $100 million spent in 2014--would be used to roll out 843 new mobile sites across the country. Some of the sites would be used to offer 3G and LTE (4G) services, although few details were provided on where and when LTE would become available.

"The growth of the mobile phone sector is a result of...a steady economic environment that the country has enjoyed in the past five years," Tigo Tanzania spokesman John Wanyancha told Reuters.

Wanyancha added that there is still scope for further growth because "we are yet to reach 100 per cent penetration."

Reuters noted that Tanzania has around 32 million mobile subscribers with an estimated penetration of 67 per cent, according to the country's telecoms regulator.

Tigo currently has around 8.5 million customers and competes with operators including Vodacom Tanzania, India's Bharti Airtel and a unit of Etisalat. Vietnam-based telecoms operator Viettel has also been granted a licence to build a 3G network.

Bloomberg reported in January that Vodacom and Bharti Airtel have submitted bids to buy the country's fourth-largest operator, Zanzibar Telecom (Zantel), from Etisalat. Millicom was also believed to have expressed interest in buying the company.

Meanwhile Smile Communications, one of a new breed of LTE-only operators springing up in Africa, has started selling LTE services in Tanzania after obtaining spectrum in the 800 MHz frequency band.

Smile COO Tom Allen noted that Tanzania is one of the top 10 African countries in terms of data usage and growth in ICT. The company is also active in Nigeria and Uganda, and plans to launch in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in July.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

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