Helios Towers has formed a partnership with Vulatel to increase mobile and fixed line setup in South Africa.

The company’s strategy is to make “major greenfield wireless and fixed-line telecoms infrastructure investments.”

Helios Towers expects South Africa to lead the 5G roll-out in sub-Saharan Africa. Helios Towers South Africa (HTSA) will build open access infrastructure which, it will then lease to other companies.

Helios operates about 6,500 towers in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo-Brazzaville, and has urban operations in Ghana.

The company said it has long considered South Africa an attractive opportunity due to the size of its economy, its population dynamics and the demand for advanced telecoms services.

Helios evaluated several potential partners in South Africa before settling on Vulatel. CEO Kash Pandya praised Vulatel’s management team and its knowledge of the South African telecoms sector.

Pandya would not speculate on plans by other South African mobile operators to sell their tower portfolios but said it would make sense for them to do so. Up to now, only Cell C has offloaded its tower assets, to American Tower.

The CEO said it can enable them invest the money in new technologies and expand their market share.