Nigerian firm, Pan African Towers (PAT) Limited, has entered into a N7.2 billion ($20 million) telecoms infrastructure investments deal with Canadian firm, Watt Renewable Corporation.
Under the terms, Watt Renewable will provide alternative energy solutions like solar and other renewable to all towers owned and managed by PAT in Nigeria, to help the latter reduce exposure by as much as 50 per cent.At the signing ceremony in Lagos, at the weekend, the Chief Executive Officer of PAT, Wole Abu, told journalists the deal is significant, because “it’s a milestone in our journey of innovation, service delivery, and pushing Nigeria to the broadband target. This is at the forefront of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC’s) agenda for setting up Infrastructure Company.”
According to him, the deal will impact greatly and positively on the quality of service both voice, and data in the country, and cited erratic power supply situation as one of the major challenges confronting telecoms operators in Nigeria, which appears not to be improving. “And this is taking a huge chunk of money from the operators. So, there is a need to act fast before we have issues. PAT and Watt Renewable Corporation deal will gladly address some of these lapses,” he added.
Abu revealed that the firm manages about 1,000 towers in Nigeria, which, according to him, will double by year end, adding that PAT also have foot prints in Ghana, “which we shall start to exploit as soon as we are done with the Nigerian environment. The 1,000 towers will be covered in the deal, but in phases.”
Speaking more on the deal, PAT Financial Controller, Seun Fajebe, explained that it is a partnership, where the tower firm need not put money down because there are investment partners.‘‘It means as PAT, we need not invest in power facilities at the site by ourselves; we have a technical partner, who handles all that to ensure that there is power at all time. Before now, those sites run on conventional power, but with the new deal, we now have alternative power supply including solar energy, back up batteries, and the conventional power as a third layer, making it three in one. With this new move, the probability of the sites going down has been completely checked,’’ he stated.
The CEO/Founder, Watt Renewable, Oluwole Eweje, said the partnership is an infrastructure based one, adding that the Nigerian subsidiary will provide alternative power supply to PAT, to help it and the MNOs cut expenses on electricity generation by half.He explained that as part of the deal: “we are not just providing power to a business, what we are also doing is to use that as an anchor station to provide power to communities that are without power within the country. We are looking at connecting at about 4,000 new connections, businesses and residential homes. PAN has towers across the country, even in rural, semi-urban and urban areas; we shall be providing them with the facilities.
“We have been working on this project since last year before we concluded recently. It is over $20 million (N7.2 billion) deal. It is a long term project. We have got some international investors on this for us. In the first phase, about 45 sites will be rolled out; we are targeting growing organically in the country.”
Speaking also, the Director, Investor Relations, Watt Renewable, Sherisse Alexander, noted that for improved services, partnership between telecoms operators and power firms are critical to the sector.He said the funding is coming largely from abroad, because it is still difficult to raise capital from within because of low investor confidence, among others.
Alexander, who hinted that there will be discussions with other tower operators in the country including HIS, PTY, and even the telcos, cited the ability of investors to mitigate risks, getting used to the environment, acquisition cost, among others as some of the challenges confronting in Nigeria.