Liquid Telecom, a pan-African group majority owned by Econet Global, has revealed that it has entered into an agreement to acquire South African communications network operator, Neotel.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, will turn Liquid Telecom in the “largest pan-African broadband network” across 12 countries with “40,000kms of cross-border, metro and access fibre networks,” the group said in a statement

Currently, Liquid telecom already operates in Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, Zimbabwe and the UK.

To meet South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment regulations, investment group Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH) will take a 30% equity stake in Neotel.planned.

Liquid Telecom CEO, Nic Rudnick said they were are excited about this transaction, and  leveraging the strengths of Liquid Telecom, RBH and Neotel, will enable them offer an unprecedented fibre network with a unique set of services and international connectivity for telecom operators and enterprises across sub-Saharan Africa.

“For the first time, African companies will be able to connect with each other in a cost effective and reliable way, all on a single fibre network. We will also be increasing investments into Neotel to cater for rapidly accelerating mobile and enterprise traffic, enabling us to launch exciting new products and services.”

Tata Communications is Neotel’s majority shareholder. Vodacom withdrew from an R7-billion offer to buy Neotel in March, citing delays and frustration at the regulator.