Eaton Towers, the African tower ownership and management company, has secured a major round of equity funding worth $150-million from Capital International Private Equity Funds (CIPEF), a private equity investor that focuses on emerging markets. The funding will be used to acquire, build and develop telecom towers across Africa for both existing and new projects.

CIPEF is an experienced and established emerging markets private equity investor. Since inception in 1992, it has invested approximately $3-billion in equity in more than 75 emerging market companies and has significant experience in telecommunications and related infrastructure in emerging markets.

CIPEF joins current shareholder African Development Partners I, a private equity fund advised by Development Partners International, which has been a supportive investor in Eaton Towers since the early stages of the company’s existence.

Alan Harper, chief executive of Eaton Towers, comments: “We are delighted to have secured substantial financial backing from CIPEF, a leading emerging markets private equity investor with a proven track record in the region and the industry.

“Their backing, combined with our management team’s expertise in Africa and telecoms management, will give further momentum to our efforts to become a major independent provider of shared tower facilities across Africa. We expect to raise significant additional debt on the back of this new equity commitment.

“Tower sharing benefits everyone involved. Operators can increase coverage and quality of service while cutting capital investment and operating costs. At the same time, subscribers benefit from the increased competition of operators sharing the same tower which also improves coverage.”

The new funding will enable Eaton Towers to buy additional tower portfolios from operators and build new towers on which it will sell co-location and shared-infrastructure facilities to mobile operators. Tower sharing is a highly cost-effective way for African operators to reach subscribers, with building and operating costs typically shared across multiple tenants.

In October 2010, Eaton Towers signed a 10-year contract to take over the operations and co-location management of 750 telecom towers for Vodafone Ghana and the company is well advanced on plans to extend its operations across other parts of Africa.