Helios Towers Nigeria is selling over 1200 towers to infrastructure company IHS in an agreement billed as Africa’s “first mobile infrastructure consolidation”.
Both companies have established a strong presence in Nigeria since the turn of the millennium, when mobile infrastructure started to become more widespread in the market (fixed line infrastructure remains limited). The firms also spearheaded tower sharing in the region, with the practice now common across the continent.
IHS has stated that the Nigerian wireless industry is “poised for a sustained period of network investment and growth” as smartphones become more prevalent, and notes that the acquisition will cement its footprint in the market.
Issam Darwish, executive vice chairman and group CEO at HIS, said: “We remain committed to the Nigerian tower market where coverage levels are yet to mature and explosive data growth continues.”
Helios and IHS have established themselves in the region by buying towers from major African players such as Airtel and MTN during infrastructure sell-offs. By taking on the responsibility of managing the infrastructure, they are then able to operate as dedicated tower firms, making money by leasing the towers back to the operators.
IHS currently owns over 23,300 towers across five African markets, with Darwish noting that there is “potential for up to 40,000 more towers required to meet [increasing] demand” for data traffic.
Provided it receives regulatory approval, the deal is expected to close in Q2 2016.