Airtel Africa reconsiders tower infrastructure investment

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows customers and employees inside a mobile phone service centre operated by Kenyan telecom operator Airtel Kenya at the Sarit Centre within the Westlands district of Nairobi, Kenya January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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Airtel Africa has announced that it will take a back seat in tower infrastructure development in some parts of the African market, including Kenya.

According to reports, the telecommunications company’s financier, International Finance Corporation (IFC), has also revealed that Airtel Africa is planning on liquidating a few available assets for them to be able to lease infrastructure from existing entities.

The company’s financier, IFC, indicated that Airtel Africa’s new strategy is centred on an asset-light business model and has depleted many of its telecommunications tower resources and is coming to the final stages of exhausting its outstanding tower resources to other tower entities.

Airtel, at the moment, has approximately 2,500 tower establishments across Africa. “As it stands, Airtel Africa has inadequate tower sites across its business and currently has no logical strategy to expand its owned towers resources”.

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As affirmed by the financier, IFC, the telecommunication company utilises two types of independent telecoms tower outlets to support its network.

The one approach the company uses is to lease space on existing infrastructure. Secondly, is to contract the company to build towers tailored to Airtel’s network coverage; by so doing, the company becomes the anchor tenant.

Over the years, cellphone network operators in Kenya have spent large sums of money annually to maintain their tower infrastructure.

For example, last year, the telecommunication infrastructure corporation Atlas Tower mentioned its access to the market, with an estimated 5.4 billion investment to install 4G towers, in their attempt to lease them to other cell phone network operators, including the likes of Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya.

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