Following a denial by MTN last month that it was close to sealing a deal to acquire ZTE’s 51% stake in Congolese cellco Congo Chine Telecom (CCT), a spokesperson for the Kinshasa-based network operator has confirmed that the South African giant is indeed among ‘several suitors’ vying for the stake. According to CCT’s Kang Linghua negotiations to sell the 51% stake, valued at about USD400 million, may stretch into 2010 because of the financial crisis. Morocco’s Maroc Telecom has also held talks about a possible purchase, Linghua said.
CCT was established in 2000 as a 51/49 joint venture between ZTE and the state-owned local fixed line incumbent OCPT. The joint venture launched GSM-900/1800 services on 31 December 2001 in Katanga in the east of the country. It has since rolled out services to Kinshasa, Bas-Congo, Bandundu and the two provinces of Kasai, giving it coverage of 40 cities. The CCT network has a capacity for 150,000 customers, with a single switch in Kinshasa. The company uses a Belgacom earth station for its international gateway. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, at the end of 2008 CCT was the smallest of DRC’s four wireless network operators, with just over 115,00 customers or 1% of the total subscriber base. It competes with Vodacom (with 47% market share at the same date), Zain (38%) and Millicom International Cellular’s Oasis (Tigo, 12%). At the end of December there were 8.5 million wireless subscribers in DRC, an increase of 37.3% year-on-year, translating into a wireless penetration rate of 13.6%.