Zain sets sights on Morocco

Kuwaiti carrier Zain has teamed up with an investment fund to acquire 31 per cent of Moroccan operator Wana.

In a 50/50 partnership with Al Ajial Investment Fund, Zain has donated towards a pot of $324m to buy the stake in the third placed Moroccan player.

Wana, which presently offers fixed and restricted mobility services based on CDMA under the Bayn brand, said it will use the cash to expand its operations and launch its GSM network this year. The company was awarded Morocco’s third GSM licence in February.

“With 22.5 million mobile customers representing about 70 per cent penetration, Morocco is an exciting new region for Zain to extend our footprint to 23 countries,” said Saad Al Barrak, CEO of Zain.

Along with the investment, Wana and Zain will enter into an operating framework agreement that will give Wana access to Zain’s expertise, purchasing power, products and services, including Zain’s One Network.

In related news, Zain also launched a mobile banking service called Zap, this week.

Targeting over 100 million people in East Africa, Zap will be initially available in Kenya and Tanzania prior to launch in Uganda under partnerships with international and regional banks including Citigroup and Standard Chartered.

The service will allow users to pay bills and pay for goods and services; receive money and send money to friends and family; send and receive money to bank accounts; withdraw cash; top up their own airtime account or top up someone else’s; send airtime to Zain customers in East Africa; and manage their bank accounts.

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