Vodafone partner Afrimax raises $120M in funding for LTE expansion in Africa

Afrimax, which last year formed a strategic framework agreement with Vodafone for Sub-Saharan Africa, has raised $120 million (€106 million) in funding to accelerate the rollout of LTE services across the region.

Investment company Mitsui & Co led the funding round, which also included Spanish private investment firm Torreal and existing shareholders Four G Capital, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the IFC African, Latin American and Caribbean Fund.

Netherlands-based Afrimax now has TD-LTE licences in 12 markets in Sub-Saharan Africa and plans to buy more. Under its agreement signed in November 2014 with Vodafone, it launched Vodafone Uganda in February this year with an offering of 2G, 3G and LTE services in Kampala and Entebbe initially. The 4G network in Uganda operates in the 2.6 GHz spectrum band.

Vodafone uses non-equity partner market arrangements to target markets where it does not have a presence. Afrimax plans to utilise the Vodafone brand to market its LTE services.

Nobuaki Kitamori, COO of the IT and communication business unit of Mitsui & Co., said Afrimax has secured one of the industry's largest footprints of 4G licences in Sub Saharan Africa.

"[We] plan to rapidly replicate the successful launch of Vodafone Uganda. With the support of our fellow shareholders, we look forward to building one of the region's leading next generation MNOs," Kitamori said.

Vodafone and Afrimax are part of an expanding group of operators that are targeting LTE opportunities in Africa. Orange has already deployed commercial LTE networks in Mauritius and Botswana, for example, and previously said it intends to launch a further five LTE networks in Africa this year.

Only last week, Smile Telecoms said it had raised $365 million to expand its existing LTE networks and services in Africa, and said it plans to launch services in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) early in 2016. The company already provides LTE services in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.

Smile offers dongle-based data-only services now, but plans to offer voice over LTE (VoLTE) services before the end of this year.

For more:
- see this Afrimax release

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