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IHS, Zain Sign $165m Tower Portfolio Agreement

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Mobile communications infrastructure company, IHS has entered into agreements to buy and leaseback the passive physical infrastructure of Kuwait-based mobile operator, KSCP (Zain), for US$165 million.

According to IHS, which has operations in Europe, Middle East, and in Africa, the transaction will result in the formation of a new entity that will acquire and manage Zain’s tower assets in Kuwait, with Zain assuming a minority shareholding in the newly formed entity.

“I’m very proud of Zain team for its professionalism in completing the first agreement of its kind in the MENA region,” says Bader Al-Kharafi, Vice-Chairman and Group CEO of Zain, adding that the transaction is set to support Zain’s transformational strategy in becoming a digital lifestyle provider.

“The transaction has been approved by Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA), and is still subject to other regulatory and statutory approvals, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018,” notes IHS in a statement.

Under the terms of the transaction, Zain is selling only its passive, physical infrastructure to the new company and will retain its intelligent software, technology, and intellectual property with respect to managing its network.

IHS says upon completion, the transaction will be the first sale and leaseback of telecom towers in the Middle East region by a licensed mobile operator, and creates the first independent tower operator of scale in the region. “This transaction is part of IHS’ broader strategy to apply its operational expertise from its international portfolio further throughout emerging markets.”

In Africa, IHS has operations in Nigeria (15,754 towers), Cameroon (2,408 towers), Cote d’Ivoire (2,560 towers), Rwanda (804) towers, and Zambia (1,966 towers).The company claims to be the largest independent tower operator in Europe, Middle East, and Africa by tower count and the third largest independent multinational tower company globally.

Frost & Sullivan analysts estimate that the mobile network tower industry in Sub-Saharan Africa will be worth approximately US$1.5 billion in the next four years. “This will be on the back of increased take-up of tower management arrangements in some markets, with authorities in various regions also pressing telecom firms to share infrastructure.”

In August, the take-up of tower management arrangements in South Africa was seen to be in stark contrast to establishments in Nigeria, where 77% of the country’s 28,241 towers are owned by independent towercos, according to Tower Exchange. Etisalat, MTN, and Airtel in Nigeria had divested their portfolios through transactions with IHS Towers and American Tower Corporation.

During January 2017, MTN exchanged its 51% share of Nigeria Tower InterCo B.V. (the parent of Nigerian telecoms tower operator INT Towers Limited) for an increased stake in IHS.

MTN’s stake in IHS increased to approximately 29% from approximately 15%. “This transaction enables MTN to simplify its tower ownership structure and diversify its exposure to tower infrastructure across the IHS Group,” said MTN.

In July last year, IHS completed the acquisition of Helios Towers Nigeria Limited’s 1,211 diversified tower sites throughout Nigeria.

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Telcos, ISPs Frustrating IPv6 Adoption by Networks

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There are indications that telecommunications operators and traditional internet service providers (ISPs) in the country are frustrating adoption of Internet Protocol version six (IPv6) by other networks, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek has learnt.

 

IPv6 is touted as the latest level of the Internet Protocol (IP) and is now included as part of IP support in many products including the major computer operating systems.

 

A network engineer with a university who does not want to be named expressed the university’s frustration to use its IPv6 address by the telecommunications operator providing them with internet connectivity because their network is not compactable with IPv6.

 

Providing more insight on this, Mohammed Rudman, chairman, IPv6 Council Nigeria, said that most telecommunications operators and internet service providers in the country have not adopted IPv6 which raises the issue of compatibility with other networks they are offering internet connectivity service.

 

“Upstream service providers in the country are not offering IPv6 on their network. For instance, among networks that bring submarine cable to the country, it is only MainOne network that have adopted IPv6 on its network. This is not good for the country’s effort to adopt IPv6,” he said.

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed that there are 32 networks in the country which are made up of telecommunications operators, internet service providers, universities, banks, oil companies among other organizations that have acquired IPv6, with only three networks using it as at today, they include MainOne Cable Company, Internet Solution Limited, and ipNX Nigeria Limited.

 

Rudman noted that while other African countries are making steady progress in the adoption of IPv6 Nigeria lags behind because of their use of Network Address Translation (NAT). NAT allows networks to convert private addresses of internet protocol (IP) to public addresses thereby making the country to consume less resource of IP addresses.

 

He added that the use of NAT is responsible for Nigeria’s low ranking in consumption of IP addresses on the internet, even as the country ranks amongst the highest in Internet penetration in world and number one in Africa.

 

Niyi Yusuf, country managing director, Accenture Nigeria, urges for regulatory push in the adoption of IPv6, he cited the case in banking sector where CBN issued a directive mandating banks to adopt tier 111 Data Centre which led them into outsourcing of data centre business to commercial data centre operators with Tier 111 certification.

 

Chris Uwaje, vice chairman, IPV6 Council Nigeria, urged Nigeria to focus on the awareness of the challenges, opportunities and benefits of the global trends of IPv6 and the future of Internet.

 

“We must activate planning processes now and initiate partnerships among business, government, academia and other members of the community. To accelerate the diffusion of IPv6, regulators should encourage the ISPs with focused incentives for constructive IPv6 transition and migration,” he said.

 

He also called for the establishment of Regional IPv6 Task force Workgroup’s as a “Train the Trainer” strategy for accelerated diffusion of the Internet Protocol Version 6 in Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NCC to Mulls 14 Days Window for Unused Data Roll Over

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Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, will soon issue a directive to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to allow 14 days window for telecom service consumers to roll over their unused data even when they do not renew at the expiration of the data plan.

 

This is giving concrete expression to the spirit of its declaration of 2017 as Year of Nigerian Telecom Consumer.

 

The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated this recenly in Port Harcourt at the programme commemorating the NCC Day at the ongoing Port Harcourt International Trade Fair, where he was represented by Bashir Idris, NCC’s Head of Projects.

 

It is adequate to say that, once the direction is issued; there will be a cessation of the ongoing practice in which subscribers to certain data regimes lose their unused data whenever they failed to renew the data plan subscribed to at the expiration of the subscription period.

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NCC Fixes Handover of 9mobile, as Glo, Others Send EoI

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reiterated that the December 31 deadline for the handover of 9mobile to the preferred bidder is sacrosanct.

 

Globacom Limited, Bharti Airtel, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Investment Partners LLP and Teleology Holdings Limited have all been shortlisted as the five bidders still in the running to buy 9mobile, the Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunications provider, which ran into financial problem with some banks in July.

 

The companies were selected through a process conducted by Barclays Bank, the financial adviser to the creditor banks, on December 4.

 

But speaking to journalists on the sideline of the 82th edition of Telecoms Consumers Parliament in Abuja ON Thursday, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, said the five shortlisted companies had been allowed to conduct due diligence on 9mobile.

 

Although Danbata did not give the names of the five firms, sources listed them as Airtel, Globacom, Smile, Helvis and Telelogy Holdings are the companies.

 

Prof Danbatta said the next stage of the sale process after due diligence would be for the firms evidence of strong financial commitment to buy 9mobile.

 

He said Nigerian authorities would not just handover 9mobile to any company, but to a very “technically and financially capable company.”

 

He assured that there would be seamless takeover of the company, and that whoever buys it would improve the fortune of the company.

 

He said: “As you are aware five bidders have emerged as I am talking to you and they have been allowed to access the data room of the 9mobile in order for them to get access to the financial situation of the company and subsequently make bid for the takeover of the company.

 

“But we will ensure that the takeover is done in a regulated manner, not a forceful manner. That is why the CBN and the NCC are supervising what is going on through the interim board that was jointly set up by the NCC and other partners.”

 

Meanwhile, the NCC boss has disclosed that the number of subscribers using the ‘Do Not Disturb’ had risen from 500,000 to 10million within eight months; underscoring the fact the campaign was achieving its objective.

 

He said the telecom consumer is the paymaster of the operators hence he should be treated as a king.

 

9mobile which was formerly Etisalat rebranded after its major owners in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, pulled out and a new board was inaugurated to run its affairs.

 

This was after failed negotiation with its lenders over a missed payment of the $1.2billion loan taken from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks in 2013.

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