Infrastructure provider IHS will acquire more than 1,200 towers from Helios Towers Nigeria (HTN), in a deal claimed to be the “first mobile infrastructure consolidation” in Africa.
Both IHS and Helios have been pioneers for tower infrastructure sharing in the continent in recent years, and established a major presence in Nigeria since the early 2000s, when the country first started to build up mobile telecoms infrastructure.
In a statement, IHS said the deal with HTN strengthens its position in Nigeria, with the country’s vibrant wireless industry “poised for a sustained period of network investment and growth”, given increasing smartphone penetration and limited fixed line infrastructure.
“We remain committed to the Nigerian tower market where coverage levels are yet to mature and explosive data growth continues,” said Issam Darwish, executive vice chairman and group CEO at IHS.
The companies have grown their presence over the years by acquiring towers from major players in the region, including MTN and Airtel, with operators selling off infrastructure to raise cash. Dedicated infrastructure players then manage and lease back the towers to the operators.
IHS owns a combined 23,300 towers in Nigeria and four other African markets, and Darwish added the country’s growing data traffic and smartphone usage means there is “potential for up to 40,000 more towers required to meet this demand”.
Financial details regarding the deal were not disclosed, with it expected to close in Q2 2016, subject to regulatory approvals.