Etisalat Nigeria has announced the sale of 2,136 towers to IHS Holding Limited (IHS), in a move Etisalat said will drive improvements in the its network performance, and allow the operator to speed up roll out of 2G and 3G coverage to its customers.
IssaEtisalat said the deal with IHS is intended to promote network sharing, improve quality and reliability of mobile services, lower overall costs, as well as contributing to a cleaner environment through reduced diesel usage and increased investments in alternative energy solutions.
The transaction – the first by a major GSM operator in Nigeria – is expected to close later this year.
“Continued demand for mobile connectivity along with increased consumption of data requires reliable and effective networks that are also cost efficient for network operators,” said Matthew Willsher, chief executive officer (CEO) of Etisalat Nigeria.
“The decision to sell our passive infrastructure to an experienced commercial partner, such as IHS, is part of our strategy to increase network coverage and capacity which is already rated number 1 for quality of service by the [Nigerian Communications Commission],” Willsher said.
According to the terms of the transaction, IHS is to invest a further US$100 million in the acquired towers, adding advanced generators and efficient batteries, as well as implementing alternative energy solutions to reduce diesel consumption and improve efficiency of grid use as per the environmental aims of the deal.
“We are delighted to have been trusted by Etisalat Nigeria with their passive network infrastructure,” said Issam Darwish, chief executive officer (CEO) of IHS.
“Our market leading operations team, managed through a state-of-the-art network operations centre and our continual investment in better, more efficient systems and technologies will ensure that that trust is well placed,” Darwish said.
“This partnership will provide significant long-term benefits to Etisalat Nigeria, allowing them to focus entirely on marketing new customer propositions to a wider market.”
Completion of the current transaction will see IHS own and manage over 6,540 towers in Nigeria, with IHS saying it intends to push for increased tower sharing and colocation in the country’s telecoms sector, to help drive network improvements, better service to subscribers and economic growth.
The move follows a current trend which sees African mobile network operators shift from owning telecommunications towers to leasing from tower infrastructure companies, attempting to address the large costs and labour hours faced by operators in managing and securing transmitter sites.
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