MTN to lease mobile towers to IHS

04 September 2014 | Kavit Majithia


South African company MTN is to launch a joint venture with tower firm IHS for the tower company to operate and manage the operator’s 9,151 transmitter towers in Nigeria.

IHS struck a deal with rival company Etisalat Nigeria to acquire 2,136 of the company’s towers last month, and the company will now take on the management of MTN’s tower portfolio.

MTN has a 46% share of Nigeria’s mobile market, while rival Bharti Airtel has 20%, Global has 19% and Etisalat has 15%.

The company already manages 20,000 towers in Africa, and it is the fifth agreement between MTN and IHS, building on tower deals in Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Rwanda and Zambia in 2012 and 2013.

“The new towers company will market independent infrastructure sharing services to other mobile operators and ISPs in Nigeria,” the company said in a statement.

Towers in Africa are typically more expensive to maintain than in other regions due to security risks and electricity problems, and many operators have sought to sell or lease the infrastructure.

IHS will reportedly invest over $500 million over the next four years to upgrade the tower network and boost service quality.