FDIs into telecoms sector hit $57m, Airtel stakes $42m on spectrum
Some $57.79 million in foreign direct investments entered Nigeria’s telecoms sector in quarter one (Q1) 2022. This is according to the latest capital importation report by the National Bureau of Statistics ((NBS).
According to NBS, the FDI showed a 2.6 per cent increase year-on-year when compared with the $56.28 million the sector attracted in Q1 2021. The NBS data also revealed that the funds attracted by the telecoms sector accounted for 3.67 per cent of the total capital importation in the first quarter of this year, which stood at $1.57 billion.
Statistics showed that in 2021, foreign investments in the telecoms sector stood at $107.5 million, a 287 per cent decline compared with $417 million recorded in 2020.
The Q1 2022 figure could be seen as a respite for the telecoms sector, which had been consistently recording a decline in foreign investments over the last five years. This was despite the government’s sustained efforts at wooing foreign investors into telecoms, especially through various broadband infrastructure initiatives.
MEANWHILE, Airtel Africa has acquired an additional spectrum to bolster its service delivery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to the company, the 58 Megahertz (MHz) spectrum spread across 900, 1800, 2100, and 2600 MHz bands, for a gross consideration of $42 million.
The company, in a notice to the NGX, yesterday, said the additional spectrum wouldsupport its 4G expansion in the market for both mobile data and fixed wireless home broadband capability, providing significant capacity to accommodate the continued strong data growth in the country.
Airtel Africa, which provides telecommunications and mobile money services in 14 countries across Africa including Nigeria, said its licence spectrum in the 2100 band in DRC comes up for renewal in September 2032, while its other licences continue until July 2036.
Airtel Africa, in the notice to the NGX, said: “DRC is the largest country by area in our portfolio and our second largest market by population. This investment reflects our continued confidence in the tremendous opportunity inherent in the DRC, supporting the local communities and economies through furthering digital inclusion and connectivity.”
Recall that the Group had in 2020 sealed a similar deal in Nigeria with the acquisition of 10MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz band for a total consideration of $94 million.
Airtel had said that the additional spectrum would be used to increase the capacity of its existing network, support the further rollout of 4G, and expand its fixed-wireless broadband offering.
Already in Nigeria, the telecommunications firm announced a subsidiary, SmartCash PSB, expected to provide services through selected retail outlets with plans to expand across Nigeria in the coming months.
Airtel Africa secured a full Payment Service Bank licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its subsidiary in April, having received an in-principle approval in 2021.
According to Airtel Africa, the licence allows it to deliver what it described at the time as a full suite of mobile money services. Airtel Africa CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, pledged to revolutionise financial services in Nigeria and drive inclusion.
“This is the beginning of our journey to revolutionise the financial services landscape in the country,” Ogunsanya noted in a statement, adding it would reach “the millions of Nigerians who do not currently have access to financial services by delivering current and savings accounts, payment and remittance services, debit and prepayment cards and more sophisticated services.”