India's Essar Group has agreed to buy majority stakes in the Dhabi Group's telecoms businesses in Uganda and Congo, Warid Telecom Uganda and Warid Congo. 'The Essar Group has committed growth capital to both telecoms operations to facilitate network expansion and marketing. Upon completion, the Essar Group will acquire a majority stake in both the assets. The partnership is also expected to bring operational efficiencies to the African operations,' the company said in a statement.
Warid Telecom Uganda was awarded Public Infrastructure Provision (PIP) and Public Service Provision (PSP) licences in December 2006. On receipt of the concessions, Warid immediately announced plans to roll out a GSM-based network, adding that it would invest USD200 million in its network to give it capacity for 1.5 million subscribers and coverage of 70% of the population.
Test calls were completed in September 2007 and the network was launched in February the following year on a pre-paid-only basis. Within three days of launch the company claimed to have signed up 150,000 customers and by the end of December the figure had increased to 1.3 million. Meanwhile in the Republic of Congo Warid has invested around USD90 million and has some 300,000 customers.