Nitel's new owner to hire 4,000 to launch 4G services

18 January 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


The new owner of the assets of Nigeria’s fixed-line operator Nitel says it has spent $1 billion on the company and plans to hire 4,000 employees as it rolls out 4G services later in 2016.

Natcom Development and Investment, chaired by Nigerian banker and investor Olatunde Ayeni, bought the assets in 2015 for $252 million from the government, after a number of failed attempts to privatise the company, dating back to 2009.

According to international data, Nigeria has only 180,000 fixed lines in service, compared with 139 million mobile phones.

Natcom will roll out new services in Abuja – the capital – as well as Lagos and Port Harcourt before expanding to other parts of the country, Ayeni told the Nigerian parliament. 

Natcom bought the assets– including licences – Nitel as well as those of its mobile subsidiary, Mtel, but not the companies themselves, CEO Kamar Abass said in an interview with a Nigerian publication in September 2015. “We did not buy Nitel or Mtel and frankly, neither Nitel nor Mtel was for sale. They will not be sold, they will be wound up. They have been subject of a liquidation process but the assets, those were sold to us,” he told the Leadership newspaper.

Nitel’s share in the SAT-3 subsea cable consortium was included in the asset sale, which was organised by the Nigerian bureau of public enterprises and the liquidator of Nitel. Natcom has already paid $10 million on SAT-3 system, including quarterly dues to the consortium, system expansion and upgrade costs, Ayeni told the Nigerian parliament.