Millicom says farewell to Africa

Millicom says farewell to Africa

A not unexpected but certainly significant recent event has been the formal conclusion by Millicom, a telecommunications group with a strong focus on developing markets, of its Africa divestiture programme.

The company has, pending the usual approvals, agreed to sell its operations in Tanzania and to divest its stake in the AirtelTigo joint venture in Ghana operated with India's Bharti Airtel.

The government of Ghana will be the new owner of the Ghanaian operation, for which Millicom says it will secure $25 million, though no other figures are available. The Madagascar-based Axian Group will add Tigo Tanzania to a presence in a number of countries, including Senegal, where Axian, which operates in a number of sectors in Africa including telecommunications, was part of a consortium involved in a deal with Millicom in 2018.

Millicom’s Tigo brand is said to have more than 52 million mobile subscribers across 11 countries in Latin America and Africa. That, however, will soon change once the latest African deals go through. In recent years Millicom has also left Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Senegal.

It was in 2000 that Millicom started investing in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In 2004, it conceptualized the Tigo brand. It now seems that returns from Africa just weren’t good enough compared to those from Latin America, although Axian, apparently, has high hopes for the Tanzanian market, its first anglophone country, which it regards as having strong potential.

According to the UK’s Financial Times, Axian owns Telma, a telecom firm operating in Madagascar, Comoros, Réunion Island and Mayotte. It also has a presence in Senegal through Free Senegal, the former Tigo-branded group, and in Togo, through Togocom.

Axian is also one of the biggest investors in EASSy — the 10,000km submarine cable system running along the east and south coast of Africa.