Airtel Nigeria acquires $317 million spectrum in push for 5G launch
Shares in Airtel Africa climbed 5.2 per cent to N1,630 per unit on Monday after the news hit the market.
Airtel Nigeria on Monday announced the acquisition of 5G spectrum and an additional spectrum for its 4G network for a total sum of $316.7 million.
According to a statement by the local unit of Airtel Africa, the decision is part of its commitment to deepen higher-speed connectivity in Nigeria by way of 5G cellular technology.
The company said that it purchased 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3500MHz band and 2x5MHz of 2600MHz from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), for a gross consideration of $316.7m, payable in the local currency.
A strategic strand of a broader plan to boost Airtel Nigeria’s mobile data network as well as the power of its fixed wireless home broadband, the spectrum purchase raises Airtel Nigeria’s current capacity ahead of the rollout of 5G technology.
The company seeks to gain the timely traction needed to earn itself a good place in the fifth-generation technology segment of Africa’s largest telecom market where two early birds secured operational licenses in 2021.
“The acquisition of 5G spectrum will underpin our growth strategy by enabling the launch of higher speed connectivity to enhance customer service and accelerate digitalisation for consumers, enterprises and the public sector,” the document said.
On Monday, shares in Airtel Africa climbed 5.2 per cent to N1,630 per unit on Lagos’ Customs Street at 13:28 WAT after the news hit the market, pushing its market value above N6.1 trillion, the biggest by any publicly traded company in the country.
Airtel Nigeria gave up an early chance to run 5G technology in Nigeria when, in December 2021, big rival MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications snapped up the two available permits at the premier auction arranged by the NCC.
While MTN teed off operations in August, Mafab sought a five-month extension due this month from the regulator for its own launch.
Nigeria is the biggest market of both Airtel Africa and the MTN Group (the parent company of MTN Nigeria).
Airtel Nigeria has assured the expansion drive will ease connectivity at a faster pace to enable improved customer service delivery and fast-track access to digitalisation for consumers, businesses and the public sector.
The corporation is weighing up “the (shallow) penetration of data customers in Nigeria”, where Alliance for Affordable Internet say fewer than 44 per cent of the people have access to smartphones and sees the gap as a room to foster growth.
“Nigeria is a market with enormous potential for future growth in mobile services,” said Segun Ogunsanya, CEO of Airtel Africa.
“Investment in new technologies and local infrastructure to enable this growth is a strategic priority for the group and will ensure we are able to provide reliable and affordable services to local communities across the country,” he added.