Mon, 29/04/2019 - 08:48
Current Issue 71
Pan African Towers
Working with telecommunications providers across Ghana and Nigeria, Pan African Towers is effectively, efficiently and technologically helping to ready Africa for a new-era
Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Vivek Valmiki
In many ways, Africa is best known as a continent poised for prosperity.
Home to four of the 10 fastest expanding economies in the world, the entire region’s GDP growth rate is projected to accelerate to four percent this year according to the African Development Bank, while forecasts are estimating that it will be home to an additional 1.3 billion people by 2050.
Faced with magnification on a multitude of fronts, sustainability in the form of economic development will be crucial to Africa’s success over the coming decades, from critical construction projects to the modernisation of telecommunications.
The latter has been deemed to be of particular importance, with 4G and even 5G technologies anticipated to power the expansion of progressive spaces such as mobile banking and ecommerce. This in mind, Analysys Mason has predicted that the telecoms service market in Sub-Saharan Africa will be worth $53.3 billion by 2023 – up from the $46.3 billion recorded last year.
Confronted with this rapidly-changing landscape, Pan African Towers is one firm helping to facilitate these major transformations.
“Undoubtedly, we are positioned for change and I’d even say we are leading it to an extent,” explains Wole Abu, the organisation’s CEO. “Simply, we’re enabling more companies to achieve their potential using our unique and innovative business model.”
An indigenous, licensed telecommunications infrastructure company, Pan African Towers is new on the scene having formally launched operations in Nigeria and Ghana last year, providing sharing services to internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile network operators (MNOs) from its already extensive portfolio of sites, distributed antenna systems, fibre networks and small cell solutions.
“We spotted the opportunities available for a nimble, innovative, and affordable independent Towerco in the African market,” reveals Abu, “and decided to run with it. I’d say it’s been a successful venture in these relatively early days – we’ve already grown to have 1,000 towers and have to date supported numerous telecom operators in lowering costs and delivering high-quality services.”
This already-expansive network has served to attract substantial attention across the region, Pan African Towers now working with all of the major MNOs and ISPs in Nigeria.
“We have grown organically and inorganically,” Abu reveals. “We acquired some existing towers and have also rolled out new such facilities under a build to suit arrangement with a leading MNO. At the end of this year our intention is to have doubled our sites adopting these same approaches.”
Expansion is a core ambition of Pan African Towers, the firm investing heavily in order to further bolster its position across a number of sector-related verticals. Abu continues, citing numerous examples of this investment plan: “We recently launched a $20 million upgrade of our power infrastructure collaboration with an international energy service provider.
“We are also working on expanding our footprint by the addition of 400 sites, recently deployed the largest DAS in Nigeria in collaboration with one of our key partners, and are also connecting about 300 of our key sites to fibre soon and testing out our small cell solution in two locations within Nigeria.”
Aggressively investing in both expansion and enhancement to this end, Pan African Towers has positioned itself as a key proponent of new technologies, capitalising on emerging trends such as 5G and the internet of things.
Its focus on small cell solutions in Lagos and Abuja, for example, is allowing the company to provide 4G and 5G technologies to network operators through active sharing as a neutral host. What’s more, it is ensuring that each of its sites remain upgraded to the highest of standards, providing data to the edge across many of its sites.
“Our key differentiator is innovation across the value chain of the business, equally creating value for all stakeholders in turn,” Abu adds. “We have a unique site build and maintenance model that enables us to deliver superior quality and reliability to our customers at very competitive rates.”
There are, of course, challenges that come with being an industry innovator, often representing themselves in the employment sphere. Faced with skill shortages across both Ghana and Nigeria, the company has had to work tirelessly to ensure that it has the right team with the right skills so that it can readily undertake complex projects.
Abu reveals: “Staffing is naturally a major hurdle for us, but we have been able to develop a robust talent management programme internally that continuously identifies skills gaps in line with industry demands. We are then able to ensure that any of these identified gaps are immediately addressed.
“Fortunately, we benefit from the last mover advantage, not making the mistakes of our predecessors in the industry, both in terms of business modelling and staffing.”
Practices such as these are crucial to the success of Pan African Towers, again evident in the form of its supply chain where the organisation works with a network of four major infrastructure partners, two integrated site management partners and a host of other carefully selected independent contractors that offer the business fundamental materials, services and external expertise.
A consolidated player to this end, working with esteemed suppliers and housing the best staff in order to effectively serve key customers, Pan African Towers is primed for growth throughout 2019 and beyond, the firm eyeing several key milestones over the coming months.
“Upper double-digit revenue growth, doubling our network expansion, operational expenditure reductions and tenancy growth are all in the pipeline for the next 12 months. We have an Africa-wide growth strategy readied and we will continue to take the opportunity to drive change across the continent during the next couple of years,” the CEO concludes.