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Airtel Africa sells Towers in Malawi, Madagascar, Tanzania, recalls bonds over debts

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Airtel Africa Plc has been forced to sell off its telecommunication Towers in Malawi, Madagascar and Tanzania for a total of $284 million.

The company also recalled $505 million of its bonds as part of measures to pay off close to $3 billion debt on its balance sheet weighing down its continental operations.

By recalling a bond, a firm had to pay off the principal amount and the interest of a debt instrument before the due or maturity date and this occurs where the issuer, or the borrower, intends to clear the debt from its books and save on the regular interest payments.

The telecommunications company, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd, with operations in 14 African countries which has been going through a turbulent business terrain in recent times, redeemed the bonds that were to mature in March 2023, thereby saving $26 million on interest payments from the early redemption.

“In line with our strategy to continue to reduce foreign currency debt at Holding Company, we also repaid $505 million bonds in March 2022, a year earlier than their March 2023 redemption date,” the company said in a statement on Friday as part of its financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2022.

“Our balance sheet has also been further de-risked by continued localisation of our debt into the operating companies (OpCos) and material debt reduction in Holding Company (HoldCo),” the statement added.

As part of its revenue generating drive, The Airtel Group completed the sale of more than 2,600 telecommunication towers in Tanzania, Madagascar and Malawi generating total proceeds of $284 million which were used to partly reduce its debt to $2.9 billion from $3.5 billion.

The Tower sale proceeds, according to the company were Tanzania ($177 million), Malawi ($55m) and Madagascar ($52m), gaining it a profit of $111 million but the loss of tower sharing revenue as a result of the sale of these towers amounted to $29 million per annum.

In March 2021, the Group announced a memorandum of understanding arrangements with Helios Towers for the potential sale of its tower assets in Chad and Gabon, while in February 2022, Airtel Africa announced it had agreed an extension to their memorandum of understanding with Helios Towers in Gabon, with completion still subject to Helios Towers obtaining a passive infrastructure licence.

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COVID-19: Friendship renewed as Algeria opens land border with Tunisia

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Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced that it will reopen the land border between the two countries in mid-July.

The border, which starts in the north at the Mediterranean coast, proceeding overland in a broadly southwards directions via a series of overland lines was closed in 2020 during the peak of Covid-19.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune made the announcement at Algiers airport alongside his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied who was preparing to leave the country after attending the festivities marking the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

“We have taken a joint decision to reopen the land borders from July 15.”

Until the pandemic, more than three million Algerians travelled to Tunisia each year, according to local media.

Generally speaking, relations between Algeria and Tunisia have so far been homogenous. Although Algeria postponed the opening of it borders with Tunisia in May.

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The Gambia benefits from World Bank’s $68m grant to revive tourism industry

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The Gambia and the World Bank have sealed a $68m grant deal which will go to support the West African country’s tourism industry, hitherto the biggest contributor to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), before the Coronavirus pandemic hit the global tourism sector, causing a near economic meltdown.

World Bank’s Managing Director of Operations, Axel Van Trotsenburg, who announced the signing of the deal at a ceremony in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, on Tuesday, said the grant is meant to support the diversification and climate resilience of the country’s tourism after the pandemic and economic crisis.

Trotsenburg added that promoting the diversification and climate resilience of tourism will help protect the Atlantic coastline of The Gambia from the effects of climate change.

About 20 per cent of The Gambian economy depends on earnings from its tourism as it is the largest foreign exchange earner for the government but the advent of the pandemic had caused the country’s economic growth to contract by 0.2 percent in 2020, according to the World Bank.

This was as a result of the global restrictions on travelling between 2020 and 2021, which prevented tourists and visitors going to the country, leading to the tourism industry taking a huge hit.

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