Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has given approval to Pan African Towers Limited (PAT) to operate as a telecommunications collocation company in Nigeria after a rigorous process and presentation to the regulatory body on the company’s grand vision for Nigeria mobile operators.

The company applauded the NCC as a regulator with integrity, while describing the approval as thorough.
The approval was communicated to the company by NCC in a letter signed by the Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umoru Garba Danbatta.

The Pan African Tower company said it would have operations in over 10 African countries, and commence operations in Nigeria immediately, following the approval from NCC.
Plans are on-going to launch in Cote d’ Ivoire and Sierra Leone before the end of the year and Liberia, Gambia, Guinea and Senegal planned for 2018, the company said in a statement.

THISDAY gathered that the company is already negotiating to acquire about 850 towers in Nigeria from some local companies hosting all the telecommunications operators in Nigeria and plans to construct an additional 1,500 strategically located build-to-suite sites in the next two years.

PAT’s innovative business model will enable it to charge lease rate in each countries’ local currency on all new build to suite sites across Africa; a move that will be most welcome by several operators who are groaning under the existing rate structure. The management team of PAT has among them over 100 years of combined experience in the telecommunication and tower industry

The Nigerian collocation sector of the telecoms industry is currently dominated by two to three operators controlling over 90 per cent of the sector, hence the urgent need for healthy competition. This is in line with the efforts made by the regulator to address the need for service improvement and increased operational efficiency thus creating value for subscribers who are plagued with persistent network quality problems and call drops. This will also prevent anti-competitive activities in the collocation sector which is to the detriment of both operators and subscribers and may lead to business collapse of some operators.

The new tower company is expected to use green technology to reduce cost and help accelerate broadband penetration which is necessary for economic development and poverty reduction. The sub-Saharan Africa has 125,000 towers out of which 45,000, about 36 per cent is currently owned by TowerCos, an additional 95,000 towers are required to meet the growing need for broadband services leaving a huge market yet to be tapped for PAT in Africa which has its strategic thrust as ‘ Think Africa Act Local’.

Director at PAT, Mr. Sohail Haider, said: “The NCC approval is a welcome development and will serve as a relief to the operators in Nigeria and across Africa who have been craving for more competition in that sector. PAT is well positioned to achieve that goal. According to recent reports from NCC, Nigeria needs about 80,000 base stations to achieve the smart Nigeria initiative, using 4G/5G technology, but currently has much less than 50,000 base stations.”

Original Article

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