Africa Online gains Mideast foothold
The Internet and e-mail provider Africa Online has bought the Egyptian ISP MenaNet Communications SAE for $8.7 million, firms involved in the deal said Monday, February 12.
Acting as MenaNet's financial advisor in the deal, Sigma Capital said Africa Online — which serves Kenya, Zimbabwe and six other African countries — has now gained a foothold in the Middle East and North Africa.
The statement from Cairo-based Sigma Capital said MenaNet has more than 7,300 active subscribers and over 9,000 FreeNet users, and provides services like WAP, Web Mail, e-calendar, Global Roaming, ISDN, XDSL service and ASP.
In addition to traditional ISP services, MenaNet has through its joint venture with Nile Sat created Egypt's first readily available broadband Internet infrastructure, the investment bank said.
The service, known as MenaSat, uses NileSat's satellite to deliver satellite Internet access to North Africa and the Middle East. Under the deal, MenaNet will become a fully owned subsidiary of Africa Online, which will use its brand name for delivering services to sub-Saharan countries and that of MenaNet to the Middle East.
In addition to Zimbabwe and Kenya, Africa Online has ISP operations in Ghana, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Ivory Coast.
With the acquisition, the Africa Online Group now has a combined dial-up user base of more than 33,000 subscribers. The group also runs E-touch, a program giving e-mail and Internet access to customers without their own computers via a network of more than 700 walk-in centers in urban and rural areas of Africa, attracting 26,500 active users.
Africa Online's Chief Executive Officer Ayisi Makatiani said in the Sigma statement that "entry into Egypt's relatively large market has been a key part of our growth strategy and is an excellent foundation for further expansion throughout the North African region."
Mustafa Abdel Wadood, managing director of Sigma Capital said "Egyptian ISPs are seeking strategic partnerships in the wake of rising local competition." There are dozens of Internet Service Providers in Egypt, with MenaTel near the top with EgyptLink. — (AFP, Cairo)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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