Helios Towers enters South African market through Vulatel partnership

Helios expects the South African market to lead on 5G rollout in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Telecommunications tower operator Helios Towers has entered the South African market through a partnership with local partner Vulatel, saying it expects to make “major greenfield wireless and fixed-line telecoms infrastructure investments in South Africa.”

The company announced on Monday that it will create a South African infrastructure platform with South Africa’s Vulatel, which will build wireless and fixed line open access infrastructure in South Africa.

Helios Towers is a leading independent tower company, with over 6,500 towers in four key markets (Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Congo Brazzaville).

Helios Towers said it has long considered South Africa as an attractive opportunity due to its economic growth, population demographics and demand for advanced telecommunications services.

The company also expects the South African market to lead the way on 5G rollout in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a “consumer and industrial business case for better coverage and enhanced connectivity delivered through the country’s current mobile network operators.”

Vulatel complements Helios Towers’ international towers expertise and access to capital with their experienced management team and established relationships within the South African market, Helios Towers said.

Vulatel is a 69 percent black-owned and 45 percent black women-owned business.

Vulatel is led by its CEO and Chairman, Tlhabeli Ralebitso (pictured on the right), who was the founding MD of Vodacom Ventures and previously led Vodacom Group’s M&A and Investor Relations’ functions. He is supported by Vulatel’s MD Jean-Pierre Crouse, who has 24 years of experience in the sector and was part of the Vodacom team and was Chief Implementation Officer at Dark Fibre Africa.

“There is a significant infrastructure gap in South Africa today, which means the demand in data services is not being met. We are convinced this provides an unrivalled opportunity to build a leading open-access infrastructure platform to address that gap,” said Tlhabeli in a statement. 

“Our vision has always been to establish a nationwide service network before entering into the open-access telecoms infrastructure market on the back of our trusted relationships with the telecoms operators in South Africa. We are delighted to be entering into this partnership with Helios Towers, which will allow us to accelerate our plans by leveraging our joint expertise in the sector and Helios Towers’ strong balance sheet and international experience.”