Wananchi Plans Sh8.4 Billion Rollout in East Africa

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Telecoms firm Wananchi Group is to invest an extra Sh 8.4 billion to increase the rollout of its services across east Africa, its CEO said yesterday.

Wananchi Group, which bundles broadband internet, cable television and voice telephony into one package, is owned by venture capital firm East Africa Capital Partners. It has operations in Kenya and Tanzania and is planning to also roll out its bundled service in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia.

In 2009, U.S.-based private equity group Emerging Capital Partners invested $25 million in Wananchi."We have to date invested $120 million in this programme and we expect to invest an additional $100 million in the next 12 months just on building these infrastructure in a few key towns in east Africa," Richard Bell, Wananchi's chief executive officer, told a regional telecoms conference."The biggest challenge of all to getting this sort of thing going triple play in the region is the ability to roll out the infrastructure, and it takes a lot of time, a lot of capital."

Bell said that Wananchi planned to have laid down fixed line infrastructure thoughout Kenya capital Nairobi, Mombasa and Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam within the next two years.