“We want to scale rapidly into the next phase of our development so that we can start looking at rural solutions that would help everybody.” – Wole Abu, Managing Director and CEO of Pan African Towers Limited
Access to life enhancing services such as health, education and financial inclusion continues to be one of the greatest challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, access to broadband connectivity seems to be a luxury to most rural communities in Sub-saharan Africa as the region is seriously lagging behind other regions across the globe. One company in Nigeria is dedicated to providing broadband penetration and connecting rural communities in Sub-saharan Africa to the global world.
Pan African Towers is a leading telecommunication infrastructure and wireless service provider in Nigeria. The company which was registered in 2017 but commenced its business operations in 2018 has within two years, positioned itself as a top company in the telecommunication industry and expanded its market beyond the Nigerian borders with operations in Ghana. The company which now has over 1000 towers in Nigeria and about 300 towers in Ghana, has developed a compelling business model coupled with the use of cutting-edge technology and powered by green renewable energy which will give various telecom network operators across Africa the much-needed support to lower costs and deliver high quality and reliable service levels across their operations.
Speaking on the occasion of his company’s celebration of two years of business operations in Nigeria, Wole Abu, Managing Director and CEO of Pan African Towers Limited, says, “Our vision is not to stop because we have a pan-African vision and beyond. We also want to sell our products out of Africa. If you have the right people, funding, values and ethics, you should be able to participate in the value chain and contribute. Opportunities are so huge in Africa if we grow infrastructure.”
Pan African Towers has highlighted the need for expanded telecom coverage and in light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, this need is more apparent than ever. “Forty-five per cent of Africans do not have telecom coverage,” says Abu. “Many people are excluded, and that has implications on financial inclusion, education, healthcare and other sectors. Apart from being a good business, it is also a good social-impact business. Internet is taken for granted in many parts of the world, and when schools migrated online because of Covid-19, my heart bleeds for the millions of kids in Nigeria who cannot do that. I do not think that there are hardly any kids in European countries who do not go to school because they do not have access to the internet.” For Pan African Towers, this need, signals opportunity. “This is something I am passionate about. If you have good telecoms today, you can sit in your house and take lectures even from India. Then the boy in the rural area can access whatever the world has to offer today.”
Recently, Pan African Towers has partnered with the Nigeria Infrastructure Development Fund (NIDF) to secure N1.96bn in funding in an effort to include rural communities in their coverage area. Abu says, “We want to scale rapidly into the next phase of our development so that we can start looking at rural solutions that would help everybody. Telecoms in Nigeria is not going to be just about the dense urban areas. It is going to have the rural component because there are quite a number of people still living in those areas. We want to penetrate hard-to-reach communities at an affordable cost, creating the services that everybody needs. If you cannot reach them, they cannot participate in education, healthcare, banking, and other sectors of the economy.”
Technology has a key role in the development of every sector of the economy. In Nigeria, the youth is one of the biggest in number in the whole continent, opening a huge door to the telecom sector. “Nigeria has a young population, which means we have a solid working class. That energy translates into labour and education. Most are digital natives, so their strengths are a powerhouse waiting to explode. The fundamentals in terms of size, diversity, challenges (which are also opportunities) are all there. In this 4th industrial revolution, you want to put money where you can have sustainable returns over the long term in a digital economy. The opportunities are huge if we start digitising.” Digital literacy is for everyone, says Abu, and once it becomes the norm for Nigeria, the government could begin to upscale digitally creating a massive optic in the economy.
Nigeria is unique in its population and location. Abu says, “If you succeed in Nigeria, it is easier for you to scale into new countries.” For the future of Nigeria and the telecom sector, the government is placing more focus on entrepreneurs and investors. On investment, Abu says, “The first thing people need to know is that investment is safe: they can bring in money properly into the country, deploy efficiently, make some profits and take it out when they want. If you are investing in Africa and you do not have investment in Nigeria, you are missing out on something big.”
In just two years of operations, Pan African Towers has received the Emerging Tower Company of the Year Award at the 2019 Nigerian Tech & Innovation Telecom Award (NTITA). The company has also received the Leading Telecom Service Provider of the Year Award at the 2019 International Standard Leadership Award hosted by the World Quality Alliance. As Pan African Towers celebrates two years of business operations across Africa, the company is dedicated to actualising the National Broadband Plan by transforming Nigeria as the hub for digital economy in Africa. The company has made giant strides in promoting cutting-edge technology and positioning itself to deliver high quality services to Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) at a faster speed.
The company thanks all its customers, partners and every stakeholder that has contributed to its growth. It says they are the reason for their growth and wishes that they continue to forge many sustainable relationships as they position themselves to bringing the much-needed change in providing connectivity across the globe.