Etisalat to Invest U.S.$2 Billion in Nigeria

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

One of the leading GSM service providers in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, Etisalat, says it will invest $2 billion in the Nigerian telecommunication market for network expansion.

The Chief Executive officer of Etisalat Nigeria, Mr Steven Evans, disclosed this while delivering a speech at the ongoing AfricaCom conference in Cape Town, South Africa, adding that the GSM operator has reached six million active subscribers within its two years of operation.

Evans, who stated that his target was to achieve seven million subscriber base by the end of 2010, said the proposed $2 billion investment would be contributed by Etisalat's three investors. The chief executive further disclosed that within the last two years, the GSM operator has built over 2,000 cell sites in Nigeria with all its services in all the 36 States; covering 55 per cent of Nigeria's population.

On the strategy adopted by the company, Evans said the GSM operator has partnered with three service providers including Alcatel and Huawei to provide quality service to her customers, adding that while Etisalat provided 50 per cent of the job, the three service providers offered 55 per cent of the total job requirement.

The CEO who lamented lack of existing national backbone network in Nigeria, said private operators such as Globacom, Phase3 Telecom, Main One Telecom amongst others, have started building their own backbone infrastructure which other operators rely on to deploy their services.

"In the case of Nigeria, the entire transmission backbone network in the country has been built by either the independent suppliers such as Phase3 Telecom or by the GSM operators themselves: Zain, MTN and Globacom. So for us to get up and running, it is essential for us to rely on the transmission being supplied by the third party," he said.

Evans,who commended the efforts of some operators for investing in transmission backbone network, however, observed that it has led to the reduction of cost of international connectivity.

He said that the GSM firm has introduced a number of packages such as EasyLife , Homezone and Elite World amongst others to enable all Nigerians to have access to telecommunications services in the country irrespective of ones status.

According to the chief executive the Etisalat's decision resolved to providing Nigerians with quality telecommunication service at cheaper, led to the reduction of its tariff to 25 kobo per second to all networks which has made it the operator with one of the lowest tariff.

He stated that telecommunication market in Nigeria was still a dynamic one which was heading to a mature stage, adding, "Nigeria will face a significant growth which will be filled by broadband services. Essentially, broadband will be delivered by radio access."

Evans who noted that having extensive broadband services in Nigeria was very important, added that the GSM service providers were expected to lead the way in the deployment of broadband services in the country.