The Chief Executive Officer of Pan African Towers Limited, an indigenous infrastructure company, Mr. Wole Abu, speaks about the need for government to support additional deployment of telecoms masts and towers, to bridge Nigeria’s infrastructure gap and enhance access to telecoms services in underserved communities. Excerpts:
What’s your general assessment of the infrastructure segment of the African telecoms market, where you currently operate?
The infrastructure segment of the African telecoms market has actually seen a lot of growth since the entrance of major players at the global level into Africa around 2012. From then, infrastructure and tower deals have grown year on year. Also, it is beginning to see cloud and fibre deployment at an increasing rate in Africa. So, infrastructure for telecommunication is growing and this is being driven by demand. In terms of adequacy, off course, there is still a demand-supply gap. Infrastructure is still not adequate. We still have a huge gap in that space. In Nigeria, filling the gap will demand an estimated investment worth $136 billion, according to the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) .
Over the years, and even before the coming of Pan-African Towers, deploying infrastructure has been faced with some bottlenecks. What are those challenges you have identified since you commenced operation?
Truly, many challenges are bedeviling the sector. There are social challenges like theft, vandalism, community issues and so on. And also, there are the business environment issues like multiple taxation, unfavourable or harsh government policies, forex scarcity and lack of long-term capital for investment in infrastructure in local currency. All these are the issues. Then of course, you also look at failure in power supply. Availability of power is important since all telecoms infrastructure, which are distributed across the country, rely on