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Strive Masiyiwa Considering Multi-Billion Listing Of Liquid Telecom

Business mogul and Econet Group founder, Strive Masiyiwa is considering an ambitious plan to separately list Liquid Telecom on the London Stock Exchange in order to raise more capital towards his Cape to Cairo vision for the fibre network company.

By Shingie Lev Muringi 

Masiyiwa, who is the Econet Group Executive Chairman said Econet had decided to go for a listing of Liquid after spurning several multi-billion dollar offers for its subsidiary. Liquid Telecom up to date has operations in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, DRC, Mauritius, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, UK and the rest of East Africa. 

“We have received several unsolicited offers for Liquid, but we want it to remain an independent access provider for Internet in Africa. We are going to raise more capital in market and strengthen its market leadership in this vital space,” Strive Masiyiwa said.

He confirmed that Econet Group had already appointed advisors for the potential listing of Liquid at one of the major European exchanges. “We are looking at one of the European exchanges and we will finalize that early in the new year.”

Liquid Telecom has been growing rapidly over the last few years fueled by the demand for infrastructure to support broadband Internet on the African continent. The company, which has so far built a fibre optic network that spans 15 African countries from South Africa, all the way to the border of South Sudan in East Africa, now wants to move into West Africa.

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Masiyiwa said: “Although Liquid has a presence in satellite and payment systems in West Africa, the terrestrial fibre side is missing, and we want to correct that, as our customers must have a seamless service from East to West, North to South. It has always been our core mission. We currently occupy the unique position of being the only company with a network that spans many different countries, as an independent access provider.”

Liquid Telecom has managed to position itself as an open access fibre and satellite infrastructure provider used by almost all the major mobile network providers in Africa. Its customers include Airtel Africa, MTN, Orange, Tigo, and Vodafone, as well as its own sister company Econet Wireless. Last week the company signed an agreement with Bharti Airtel to use its existing network, as well as build additional infrastructure.

Masiyiwa said the current demand for its fibre network means it will build an additional 20,000 km in just the next three years. The continent’s leading banks, retail groups and mining groups are using Liquid network to link up their own pan African business operations. More recently Liquid has turned its attention to building what it calls a ‘Content Delivery Network’ (Liquid CDN) for the growing number of companies providing video entertainment services including streaming, that require high capacity bandwidth.

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 “The level of system reliability required to offer service to the likes of Netflix is very high, and we are the only ones in a position to do that end to end across Africa. It will however require much more investment, that is why we are now looking at a return to the capital markets,” Masiyiwa said.

He added that he favors the listing of subsidiary companies rather than his privately held Econet Group. He explained that his group’s telecoms operations have three main subsidiaries, all of which are not listed.

Econet Wireless is the best known part of the Group, which focuses on telecommunication services, such as mobile network services. It has operations and investments in ten countries: South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Burundi, Nigeria, Nigeria, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, and New Zealand. Liquid Telecom focuses on satellite and fibre optic infrastructure for primarily corporate customers, including other telecoms providers. Liquid Telecom has direct operations in 15 countries.

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Shingie Lev Muringi is a Technology Analyst & Digital Media Strategist by profession. He is a qualified Cisco Certified Network Engineer & a BTech. E-Commerce alumni with the Harare Institute of Technology. Shingie is a very passionate technology enthusiast who is driven by a burning desire to be a leading strategist in this digital revolution era where every organization needs to impress the paradigm shift with urgency. He has previously worked for TN Holdings, Steward Bank, Econet Wireless - Ecocash and TechnoMag before joining 263Chat as a Journalist

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