Axiata’s edotco draws up $200m tower infra investment plan in Myanmar

Construction News Myanmar
Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco Group giving an opening remark in Yangon.
Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco Group giving an opening remark in Yangon.

Marking its official launch in the country, edotco Group, a telecom infrastructure service company, has laid out a $200-million investment roadmap for its operations in Myanmar.

The investment, to spread over five years, will include building and owning up to 5,000 towers in the country in partnership with Singapore listed Yoma Strategic.

edotco is the telecom infrastructure services arm of Axiata Group Bhd, which completed the acquisition of a 75 per cent stake in Digicel Myanmar Tower Company Ltd (MTC) for $221m via its parent company, Digicel Asian Holdings Pte Ltd, in December last year. Yoma Strategic continues to hold its 25 per cent stake.

Digicel handed over the 1,250 towers, that MTC had initially worked with, to Qatar-based telecom operator, Ooredoo, their first customer.

“In December announcement with the acquisition of MTC, we believe we have a great story for the future. We believe MTC is fantastic investment opportunity for edotco. We anticipate that by 2024, there could be up to 30,000 towers required in the country,” said Suresh Sidhu, chief executive officer of edotco Group Sdn Bhd.

MTC has further signed core location contracts with the other two telecom operators in the country, Telenor and Myanma Post and Telecommunications (MPT), said Sidhu.

The telecom industry became more active since January 2014 when the foreign mobile operators, Telenor and Ooredoo, were awarded the license to do operations in Myanmar.

“In the last two years, FDI in telecom reached $2.8 billion and created about 250,000 jobs. We are optimistic that there will be more expansion in Myanmar with the inclusion of edotco especially in rural Myanmar,” said Daw Myat Sandar, director of the Myanmar Investment Commission.

“Together with edotco, we are committed to investing into telecom infrastructure in Myanmar. The availability of a reliable nationwide telecom network will make a meaningful difference to the lives of Myanmar people and we are proud to play a role in this development,” said Melvyn Pun, chief executive officer, Yoma Strategic.

Sharing of tower infrastructure is an area which edotco hopes to introduce in Myanmar. Availability of spaces to build the tower and land ownership issues are one challenge that tower construction companies may face.

“This year in Bangladesh, we will have power partnership in 100 communities where additional power provided by solar will go back to the community. We are open to finding ways that community feels that they get the true benefit,” said Sidhu.

Speaking to DEALSTREETASIA on the challenges in the telecom space, Pun says, “We don’t have many contractors who have experience. It is really about technology and knowledge transfer. For us, it is really about working with the existing contractors and making sure that they learn how to do things efficiently,” said Pun to DEALSTREETASIA. He also finds that the construction cost of tower assets has now come down with greater efficiency.