Telecom Operators Focus On Lagos, Abuja, PH For Improved RoI

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Telecommunications operators, especially tower companies, have revealed that the concentration of infrastructure in cities guarantees a faster return on investment (RoI).

Speaking during the West Africa Telecoms Infrastructure Summit and Exhibition (WATISE) organised by Technology Mirror in Lagos, Mike Ofili, Chief Executive Officer, Coloplus, a tower infrastructure company, said that RoI in infrastructure could only be achieved in major cities where there is relative stability and a ready market.

At the forum with the theme: “The Future of Infrastructure Connectivity and Services: A New Interdependent Ecosystem of Partners,” Ofili added that the concentration of most telecoms infrastructure in major cities was a result of vandalism, insecurity, and high right-of-way charges experienced across the country.

The Coloplus CEO said that this explained why in several parts of the country outside the three major cities which were Lagos, Abuja and Port- Harcourt many Nigerians were still on 2G networks.

Ofili however, noted that Right of Way (RoW) charges were also high in the major cities, especially Lagos, but operators were able to sustain infrastructure deployment with higher returns from the state.

Speaking on the issues that prompted operators to slow down their expansion into rural areas, Ofili said most telcos have to pay expensive rates to lay fibre cables.

“It is very difficult to lay fibre cable across many communities in Nigeria, you cannot cross any community without paying different people.

“You cannot build towers without going through different communities of people demanding all kinds of things,” Ofili said.

He explained that if a firm failed to meet the demands of the communities, they would either not allow you to deploy or vandalise your equipment.

Ofili said there were many states operators could not go to, noting that to lay fibre in those states, operators would need heavy security.

He said operators had lost many of their engineers to insecurity in the North while trying to deploy infrastructure.

Ofili, however, noted that to deploy infrastructure in some communities that were considered important, operators had to negotiate with the people and align with them.

In his remarks, Spencer Itive, Managing Director, RS Engineering Global Limited noted that the government had been paying lip service with the declaration of telecoms infrastructure as critical national.

According to him, this lack of commitment from the government has led to a consistent attack on telecom infrastructure across the country.

“We are yet to see the commitment of the government in protecting telecom infrastructure and this is why every community sees the deployment as a favour to the telecom operators,” Itive said.

On the future of infrastructure connectivity, he said all stakeholders in the telecom sector had to understand that no single entity could meet the multifaceted demands of the digital age in isolation.

He noted that these partnerships would redefine the boundaries of what is possible in telecommunications.

Also speaking, Rachael Orumor, CEO, Sens Orbit Nigeria, said that over 20 million businesses across Africa use technology to interact with their clients and potential customers.

According to her, the factors that are driving digital transformation in West Africa are the increasing investment in infrastructure, growing awareness of the benefits of technology and a supportive regulatory environment.

Orumor however said that there was limited access to education, especially for people in rural areas, who do not have access to high-speed internet or reliable mobile service.