By Prince Osuagwu
WITH a fresh injectionof aboutÂ $350Million equity financing from a group of investors recently, Helios Towers, a Nigerian co-location, tower outsourcing and management company, may be on its way to unifying African telecom operations, replicating the type of infrastructure sharing services rendered in Nigeria to other African countries.
The investing group,Â Global Investor Group, comprising of Soros Strategic Partners LP, RIT Capital Plc, Lord Rothschildâ€™s family interest, Albright Capital Management LLC and fund advised by Helios Investment partners LLP. Helios Towers Africa Ltd, said the primary target for injecting the fund was to ensure that the success story of Helios Towers Nigeria is replicated in a number of other African countries.
Since established in 2005, Helios Towers Nigeria Limited has provided for many Nigerian telecom operators, build-to suit and collocating tenant options as well as fully managing such services. With customers spanning the GSM and CDMA based operators and service providers utilizing Wi-Fi / WiMax technologies, the company prides itself as currently having over 1000 fully managed tower sites while maintaining 99.9% service uptime.
With the development, Helios Towers Africa is expected to build fully managed telecommunications towers and lease space on those towers to wireless telecommunications services providers across Africa .
However, the company said it would execute a business model that has been successfully deployed in Nigeria even as the multimillion dollar IFC-led investment acquired recently, would see it expanding the current over 1,000 fully managed sites portfolio in Nigeria to 2000 by 2010.
Meanwhile, the company said that its eyes on the larger African market would not hamper its long term plan in Nigeria with massive expansion in 2010 with further investments in the coming years.
With poor telecom funding, which has contributed largely to the high cost of doing business in Africa, Investment in telecom infrastructure becomes crucial for Nigeriaâ€™s economic development in the 21st century knowledge economy.
Perhaps with the launch of Helios Towers operations across Africa , wireless operators could outsource non-core activities and passive infrastructure, allowing for focus on capital and managerial resources and improving core products and services.
This is even as increase in telecommunications coverage, economic roll out of services and extension of affordable mobile services to semi-urban and rural areas are expected from the development.