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Minister regrets network shutdown in North, tasks telcos on service delivery

By Adeyemi Adepetun
04 November 2021   |   3:05 am
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has stressed the importance of service commitment from telecommunications operators in the country.

telecommunications

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has stressed the importance of service commitment from telecommunications operators in the country.

Pantami stated this on Tuesday, when the Group Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa and formerly CEO of the Nigerian arm, Segun Ogunsanya visited him to introduce his successor, Surendran Chemmenkotil.

The minister, who commended Airtel Nigeria for compliance over the pursuit of profit, applauded Ogunsanya for his commitment towards prioritising compliance over profit, saying that in several interactions with himself as well as the Ministerial Committee, the Airtel Africa Chief never hesitated in restating his commitment to compliance as a critical part of modern business.

According to the Minister, much as we recognise the fact that investors are in business to make a profit, it is also imperative for businesses to comply with the laws and regulations of the industry and “I am delighted to say Airtel with the leadership of Mr. Ogunsanya has done very well in this regard.”

Pantami regretted the impact of the recent network shutdowns in parts of the North due to military operations, saying that it was a temporary measure to secure the country from banditry and insurgency.

The minister congratulated Ogunsanya on his deserved elevation to the position of Group Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa, stating that his record of consistent high performance and excellent leadership capabilities speak volumes.

He prayed for his success in his new position and welcomed the new CEO of the Nigerian operation to Nigeria, charging him to build on the remarkable record set by his predecessor.

Pantami also expressed his delight with the growth that the telecommunications industry has recorded with a resounding 17.5 per cent contribution to the country’s GDP in the second half of 2021.

Speaking earlier, Ogunsanya had expressed profound appreciation to the Minister for his support to him personally and Airtel Nigeria as a business. In his words, “you have done a great deal to support our business and indeed the growth of the telecommunications industry and I pray for your continued success.”

Ogunsanya, who led Airtel Nigeria for over nine years, was recently appointed the Group Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa, which has operations in 14 African countries.

MEANWHILE, Airtel Africa finalised a deal to sell its passive infrastructure assets in Madagascar to Helios Towers for $51.7 million, furthering a strategy to focus on core operations.

In a statement, Airtel explained it will pour the proceeds into external debt reduction and investments in network and sales infrastructure in Madagascar.

Airtel also noted its Madagascar telecoms tower subsidiary will continue to develop, maintain and operate its equipment on the towers as outlined through additional lease arrangements.

In a separate statement, Helios Towers explained it expects a 12 year service agreement on the acquired assets to provide a $5 million bump in EBITDA in the first year of ownership. The deal adds 490 sites to Helios Towers’ portfolio.
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Helios Towers previously agreed to acquire Airtel’s infrastructure in Malawi.

Airtel has also agreed to sell passive infrastructure assets in Tanzania and is tipped for similar plans for its towers in Chad and Gabon.