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News > Private Equity > Deals

Harith expands telecoms portfolio

Anna Lyudvig
Sept. 17, 2018, 9:06 p.m.
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Harith General Partners has expanded its telecoms portfolio with a $24.1m investment in Open Connect, Malawi’s largest and only redundant fibre network provider to the domestic market.

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Harith General Partners has expanded its telecoms portfolio with a $24.1m investment in Open Connect, Malawi’s largest and only redundant fibre network provider to the domestic market.

Open Connect currently has the largest fibre optic coverage in Malawi. 

It provides carrier of carrier, redundant light and dark fibre services to leading Mobile Operators, Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) and Terrestrial TV providers. 

As the largest and only fully redundant fibre network provider in the Malawian domestic market, with key international fibre links to Mozambique and Tanzania, Open Connect additionally has a direct connection to SEACOM’s Indian Ocean Submarine Cable and to EASSY via Mozambique de Telecommunication (TDM).

Tshepo Mahloele, Harith CEO said: “Harith believes partnering with a proven operator in Malawi and thus expanding our portfolio into East Africa, is a logical step in our company’s investment strategy.” 

Harith made its investment at a time when Open Connect was looking to upgrade its offering.

The major revamp the network will undergo will ensure the firm maintains its competitive advantage.

With a population of over 18 million people, Malawi’s economy has historically relied on agriculture, but the service sector (of which telecommunications is a key sub‐sector) has seen significant growth over the past couple of years, and now contributes the largest portion to the economy, which is expected to grow by between 3.9% and 4.9% this decade. 

The growth potential of the services sector is expected to remain strong as ISPs seek to grow their customer bases and mobile phone operators have huge potential to increase sales and internet subscriptions, as well as expand new services such as mobile banking.

Open Connect is focused exclusively on the operation of long‐distance subterranean backbone, metro‐ring and backhaul fibre to private sector, carrier to carrier operators, and has a fibre network in Malawi of over 2250km, more than triple that of its nearest competitor.

Harith’s investment will see it become the company’s biggest shareholder with a holding of 60%, held via its Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund 2 (PAIDF 2). 

The other major shareholder in Open Connect is Press Corporation, the largest holding company in Malawi, which is listed on both the Malawi Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange as a global depository receipt. 

Other shareholders include the Malawian Government, Old Mutual, NICO Holdings and Investments Alliance.

Harith has two substantial investments in the telecommunication space in Africa. 

In South Africa, Harith is a major shareholder in Dark Fibre Africa, an open access fibre optic company.

Harith is also invested in MainOne,a Nigerian communications services company providing open access wholesale, international connectivity and broadband capacity to countries in West Africa. 

“With our investments in MainOne in Nigeria and Dark Fibre Africa in South Africa, we have proved that access to fast, affordable communication is a massive growth enabler for African economies, and we believe Open Connect will continue to grow its market leading position in this part of our Continent,” Mahloele said.

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