MTN partners Rocket, Millicom to boost African e-commerce

South Africa-based operator MTN Group has partnered with online incubator Rocket Internet and Millicom International Cellular to take equal stakes in Africa Internet Holding (AIH), seeking to promote African e-commerce and digital services.

The partnership will see each company take a 33.3 per cent shareholding in AIH, which was founded by Rocket Internet and Millicom in 2012 to develop e-commerce businesses across the continent and now has a presence in 13 African countries, having developed successful e-commerce ventures such as Jumia, Zando and Hellofood.

Sifiso Dabengwa, MTN Group president and chief executive officer (CEO), said: “We are excited to engage in a strategic partnership with Rocket Internet and Millicom to develop online ventures across the fast growing internet markets of Africa. Rocket Internet’s proven successful track record, coupled with Millicom and MTN’s leading mobile telecommunications position, will allow the partnership to capture the growth potential of the digital media space across our footprint in the region”.

MTN said the investment was in line with its strategy of “bringing the digital world” to customers, adapting to their changing needs and improving user experience.

“MTN will continue to pursue digital business adjacencies as one of its key strategic priorities to drive growth and value to our customers across Africa,” said Dabengwa.

Millicom president and CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht said: “We are pleased to welcome MTN as a strategic partner to accelerate the growth of our online alliance in Africa. It is a significant vote of confidence in its future. Between us we have more than 220 million mobile customers in the continent with very limited overlap. MTN is the leader in Nigeria and South Africa, the largest markets for AIH currently, while Millicom contributes through its leading positions in our markets, combined with one of the most innovative product offerings.”

“The strategic partnership between Rocket Internet, Millicom and MTN is unique and will enable AIH to reach more consumers with better services. We feel very strong about AIH’s existing and future ventures in Africa and look forward to working with our new partner,” said Oliver Samwer, co-founder of Rocket Internet.

The partnership is expected to create additional synergies for MTN in its core business. The investment is subject to regulatory approval, and the transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2014.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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