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A Growing Opportunity to Improve Network Coverage through Mobile Infrastructure Outsourcing and Sharing by Operators
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• As one of the least connected regions in the world, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) continued growth in the number of mobile towers is expected. This growth is likely to be driven by third-party tower companies (towercos). • The towercos are offering a range of tower outsourcing solutions, which ranges the outright selling of towers in sale-lease-back (SLB) structures, build-to-suit, manage with license to lease (MLL), to colocation and basic managed services of the infrastructure on behalf of the operator. • The market for tower services in the region was worth an estimated $991.7 million in 2016, and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8%, to reach $1,508.4 million in 2021.• This market insight provides an analysis of the telecoms tower industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a special focus on some of the leading markets in the region, including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania.• It focuses on the current structure of tower ownership between mobile network operators (MNOs) and towercos and how this is expected to evolve over the long-term. The report also provides an overview of the current and expected base of mobile towers in the region, highlighting potential opportunities in the market and competitive structure across selected countries. • MNOs are becoming open to selling off or outsourcing the management of their infrastructure to third-party providers in order focus on their core operations. With MNOs still looking to increase their network coverage, towercos will need to secure prime sites in urban areas and strategic locations in rural areas that can offer a long-term Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) from value-added services. • Markets such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have a high population and relatively low mobile Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) penetration. They are expected to have the highest growth in towers deployed as MNOs look to increase their network coverage. • With their high base of towers, coupled with the low penetration of towerco-owned towers, South Africa and Kenya offer the greatest potential for future tower sales. However, the leading operators have not demonstrated a willingness to sell their towers in the short to medium-term.• There is a growing opportunity for towercos to boost tenancy ratios from leasing capacity to emerging, relatively small providers of wireless broadband services such as WiFi and Long Term Evolution (LTE).• Given the region’s under-developed energy infrastructure towercos have an opportunity to drive cost-savings through energy management. There is growing interest in hybrid systems to power mobile sites, using power from the grid and renewable energy solutions such as solar together with batteries for energy storage. The towercos can look to either partner with or acquire specialist energy technology providers to accelerate their capabilities in this space.
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