Hits Telecom eyes Africa expansion

Telecoms

Kuwaiti group Hits Telecom is in talks with mobile operators in Liberia and Tanzania to share towers and plans to launch nationwide services in both countries this year and also to buy another African operator.

Hits will invest about $100 million in Tanzania and $40 million in Liberia where its network is already operational in major cities, chief executive Par Eriksson told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

Eriksson said of the tower-sharing talks: "Liberia is a small number, something like 25 sites, but in Tanzania it will be hundreds of sites".

Hits has four African mobile licences -- Democratic Republic of Congo where a launch is some way off, Equatorial Guinea where it has major coverage, and Liberia and Tanzania.

"In Equatorial Guinea we are more or less done. By February, we will have 96 or 97 percent coverage of the population," Eriksson said.

"(So,) during the last half year, we have ensured we have enough funding to roll out two new operations in Liberia and then Tanzania."

"We have one licence left, DRC, which is a big country. So, this is a little bit late and we will not complete that network until 2013," Eriksson said.

Its launch in Tanzania has been delayed by a court case with Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei , which has a contract to help build a network for Hits in Tanzania.