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Telecoms Sector Needs 38,000 New BTS — PAT

A Nigerian firm, Pan African Towers (PAT) Limited, has said there is a 38,000 deficit of base transmission station (BTS) in the telecom sector requiring huge investment.

It, however, said the introduction of colocation and infrastructure sharing by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has eased the task as it has taken a chunk of capital expenditure (capex) off the mobile network operators (MNOs).

Its Chief Executive Officer, Wole Abu, who spoke on the sideline of the signing of $20 million infrastructure investment deal with Canadian firm, Watt Renewable Corporation in Lagos, said power constraints account for 70 per cent of the challenges being faced by MNOs in the country.

He said: “Co-location is an imperative because it brings down the operating cost of an operator. And as we deploy them, they do not have to carry capex cost.  Yes they are collocating and collocation is an imperative. Nigeria is growing. Technology is shifting. When it was 2G, you had bigger towers, longer but as we go on in the Gs it becomes shorter.  5G is like a WiFi coverage. We need about 38,00 more towers to provide coverage in Nigeria. We are in position to provide that. Very soon, you will be seeing collocation in active towers.”

The partnership will see Watt Renewable provide alternative energy solutions such as solar and other renewables to all towers owned and managed by PAT in Nigeria to help the latter reduce exposure by as much as 50 per cent.

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Speaking on the deal, Abu said the deal is significant, because “it’s a milestone in our journey of innovation, service delivery, and pushing Nigeria to the broadband target. This is at the forefront of the NCC’s agenda for setting up infrastructure company”.

Abu said the deal will impact greatly and positively on the quality of service for both voice and data in the country. He cited the erratic power supply situation as one of the major challenges confronting telecoms operators in Nigeria, which appears not to be improving.

He said the erratic power supply “is taking a huge chunk of money from the operators. “So, there is a need to act fast before we have issues. PAT and Watt Renewable Corporation deal will gladly address some of these lapses”, he said.

Abu said PAT manages about 1,000 towers in Nigeria, which according to him, will double by year end, adding that the firm also has footprints in Ghana.

Watt Renewable Chief Executive Officer, Oluwole Eweje, also said the partnership is an infrastructure based one, adding that the Nigerian subsidiary will provide alternative power supply to PAT to help it cut expenses on electricity generation by half.

Eweje said: “We are not just providing power to a business, what we are also doing is to use that as an anchor station to provide power to communities that are without power within the country. We are looking at connecting at about 4,000 new connections, businesses and residential homes. PAT has towers across the country, even in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. We shall be providing them with the facilities.”

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He added: “We have been working on this project since last year before we concluded recently. It is a $20 million (N7.2 billion) deal. It is a long term project. We have got some international investors on this for us. In the first phase, about 45 sites will be rolled out; we are targeting growing organically in the country.”

Director of Investor Relations, Watt Renewable, Sherisse Alexander, who spoke on the development, noted that for improved services, partnership between telecoms operators and power firms are critical to the development of telecoms sector in Nigeria.

PAT Financial Controller, Seun Fajebe explained that it is a partnership where the tower firm needs not put money down because there are investment partners.

Source: The Nation

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