ECONET INVESTS IN BURUNDI’S THIRD MOBILE OPERATOR

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

South Africa-based Econet Wireless has bought a 65 percent stake in Burundi's ST Cellular S.A..

ST Cellular is Burundi's third biggest cellular network and Econet plans to increase subscribers four-fold within two years. Burundi has four GSM operators.

While not willing to indicate how much the purchase cost and how much it would spend to achieve its goals, Econet on Thursday said that "the planned network expansion will probably be one of the single largest foreign direct investments in Burundi".

ST Cellular has a customer base of under 50,000. Econet spokesman Sure Kamhunga said that the company hopes this would be close to 200,000 within 18 to 24 months.

Burundi, with a penetration rate of 2.2 percent, offers mobile operators with a lot of potential for growth. The country has 160.000 subscribers. Africa's average penetration sits around 15 percent and it is no surprise that operators from Africa and the rest of the world are trying to increase their presence on the continent.

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