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Airtel Africa Seeks US$194m from IFC to Invest in Network Expansion

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Airtel Africa has proposed to raise US$194-million through debt from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) to initiate network investment across seven subsidiaries and refinance existing loans.

Airtel Africa is an integrated mobile phone operator operating in 14 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The IFC stated: “(it) will support the project with a debt package of up US$150 million from its own amount and up to US$44 million in mobilisation from MCPP (Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Programme) funds.”

According to the financial institution the funds will be used to support Airtel Africa’s operations and investments across the seven subsidiaries including Chad, DRC, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo and Zambia.

Airtel Africa is yet to respond to requests for comment at the time of publishing.

In January this year, the company said it was serving over 122 million people across African 14 markets in which it operates including Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania Uganda and Zambia

It said it will continue to execute its growth strategy to deliver on its market potential afforded by demographics and market dynamics across voice, data and mobile money services.

The company’s need to invest in network expansion follows a statement included in its financial report for the period ended 31 December , 2021 that “there is now an improvement in customer growth trends across its operations with Nigeria returning to strong customer growth after a period affected by the implementation of ’know-your-customer’ requirements.”

In July 2021, Airtel Africa inked a deal to sell about 7.5% stake in its mobile money unit to Qatar Holding LLC for around US$200-million following a similar transaction with global payment processor MasterCard for US$100-million with the aim of using the proceeds to invest in network and infrastructure in the respective operating countries among others.

 


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Nerds Unite 2022 Highlights the Power of Global Interconnection for Businesses in West Africa

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The critical role of infrastructure for the global interconnection of West African enterprises to achieve borderless growth’ was the main theme of the keynote address at MainOne’s Nerds Unite 2022.

Taking place last week, the event is MainOne’s flagship customer event, bringing industry experts together with MainOne customers to discuss trends and opportunities in the Digital economy.

In this year’s keynote speech by Judith Gardiner, Vice President Growth and Emerging Markets at Equinix, Judith said that Equinix will be a prime mover in interconnecting Africa with the rest of the world on its global digital infrastructure platform, enabling access to virtual network services through the MainOne data centers and network.

She emphasized the role that Equinix has played in other geographies as an industry leader and that the acquisition of MainOne is a key part of Equinix long-term strategy to become a leading African carrier-neutral digital infrastructure company in Africa.

“Businesses in Lagos, Accra, and Abidjan now have equal access to the power of Platform Equinix’s entire data center network, connecting into the same network as some of the biggest multinational companies in the world.” Said Judith Gardiner, Vice President Growth and Emerging Markets at Equinix.

“By supporting the growth and maturity of digital infrastructure in Nigeria and West Africa, we believe that the Equinix acquisition of MainOne will be transformational across several sectors of the economy including financial services, content and digital media and many of the enterprise sectors.” She added.

Globally, the Equinix Platform is comprised of over 240 data centers, providing digital infrastructure, colocation and interconnection services to over 10,000+ companies including more than half of the Fortune 500 and more than one-third of the Forbes Global 2000.

The two-hour virtual event featured two-panel sessions. The first panel included top executives from Meta, Tizeti, Lagos Free Zone, Eko Electricity Distribution Company discussing the theme “Unlocking Growth through an Interconnected Global Digital Infrastructure” – expanding on the opportunities that global digital infrastructure offers to Pan-African focused organizations.

The second panel focused on “Maximizing Business Efficiency and Minimizing Talent Drain and Rising CAPEX through IT Outsourcing” and included a discussion with executives from leading businesses such as HPE by Selectium, Access Bank, NIBSS, and Deloitte shed light.

Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne, an Equinix company, maintained that with the pandemic induced recession and high rates of inflation, technology will be responsible for propelling the growth of many African economies.

MainOne will continue to drive this tech-fueled growth through the expanded capabilities now available to West African enterprises.

In her words, she highlighted the Equinix entry into Africa through MainOne, with the objective of integrating MainOne facilities into the global Equinix Fabric platform.  Businesses can now enjoy borderless growth right here in our region through the power of global interconnection that Equinix brings.


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NBS says Active Internet Subscriptions Rose by 2.7% to 145.8m in Q1’22

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The number of active internet subscriptions in Nigeria rose quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) by 2.7 per cent to 145.8 million in the first quarter of 2022 (Q1’22), from 141.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 (Q4’21).

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)  disclosed this, yesterday, in its ‘Telecoms Data: Active Voice and Internet, Porting and Tariff Information’ for Q1’22 stating that the number of active voice subscribers also rose QoQ by 2.09 per cent to 199.5 million in Q1’22  from 195.4 million in Q4’21.

The report showed that Lagos had the highest number of active voice subscribers and active internet subscriptions in Q1’22 with 24.2 million and 17.8 million respectively.

Specifically, NBS stated: “In Q1’22, a total of 199.5 million active voice subscribers were recorded compared to 192.4 million in Q1’21.  This represents a 3.71 per cent rise in voice subscriptions Year-on-Year (YoY).

“On a QoQ basis, growth stood at 2.09 per cent. Similarly, a total of 145.8 million active internet subscribers were recorded in Q1’22 compared to 144.9 million in Q1’21.

“This represents a 0.62 per cent increase in active internet subscriptions YoY.

“On state analysis, Lagos had the highest number of active voice subscribers in Q1 2022 with 24.2 million, followed by Kano with 11.6 million and Ogun with 11.5 million, while Bayelsa had the least with 1.45 million, followed by Ekiti with 1.78 million.

“Again, Lagos State stood top for active internet subscriptions recorded at 17.8 million, followed by Ogun with 8.53 million and Kano with 8.36 million.


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Digital Skills: Pantami Commends NITDA, CISCO for Supporting Academic Institutions

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Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantam), minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has applauded National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and CISCO Network Academy for their efforts in supporting the Federal Government of Nigeria in achieving a digital economy through the nation’s Academic Institutions, especially universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in training students on digital skills, reiterating that equipping citizens with requisite skills rather than depending on certifications that cannot be validated, will produce employers of labour and end unemployability in the country.

Prof Pantami made the commendation while delivering a Keynote Address at the CISCO SAFARI International Conference 2022 organised by NITDA in collaboration with CISCO held at the Digital Economy Complex, Mbora, Abuja.

The conference themed “Digital Skills in the 4th Industrial Revolution, the Impact on National Development” is an annual event where experts converge to discuss the progress and achievements of CISCO Academy in mentorship, career development programmes in the country and to strengthen the partnership it has enjoyed with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) over the years.

Describing the theme of the conference as apt and a reflection of the present administration’s foresight in aligning with global trends, Pantami stated that digital skills and the 4th Industrial Revolution have been highlighted in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy as key pillars in diversifying the country’s economy.

“If you look at our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria 2020- 2030 which was unveiled by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, on the 28th of November 2019, you will discover that these two components of the theme have been effectively mentioned and captured in the policy under pillars number 2 and 7. Pillar number 2 is digital skills and literacy while pillar number 7 is digital society and emerging technologies”, he noted.

Arguing that the world is already in the 4th Industrial Revolution, Pantami averred those emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Blockchain Technology among many others have replaced the existing emergence of computers, worldwide webs and the internet which was experienced in the 3rd Industrial Revolution.

“There is a clear line of demarcation between general Information Communication Technology and Emerging Technologies. The world is being converted to a virtual world today to the extent that we are so much addicted to the virtual world and we know the virtual world more than how we know and interact with the physical world. We are already in the 4th Industrial Revolution”, he opined.

While highlighting the impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on the national economy through the emergence and dominance of a knowledge-based economy over a resource-based economy, Pantami disclosed that Nigeria experienced ICT and other digital services contributed 17.9% to the Nation’s economy as regard 8% contributed by Oil in the second quarter of the year 2021.

Stating that the 4th Industrial Revolution is about knowledge and not natural resources, the Minister further reiterated that organizations like Microsoft, Apple, SpaceX and Amazon have taken prevalence over organizations like Shell, Mobil and Chevron.

Commending the country’s educational sector on various policies developed to upscale digital skills in their institutions, Pantami noted that the major focus should be on equipping undergraduates with Soft Skills such as analytical thinking, critical thinking, project management and hlHard Skills such as artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things should be introduced to boost employability in the country.

Giving assurances of the government’s support, Prof. Pantami stated that “Of recent, we have had an agreement with Huawei and CISCO to establish a minimum of 300 academies in Nigeria and to train a minimum of 30,000 citizens on advanced training. In addition to this, we have another agreement with Microsoft in which 5 million citizens are going to be trained on ICT, particularly in the area of Artificial Intelligence”.

While giving his special address earlier, the Honorable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu commended Prof. Pantami on the unprecedented achievements he recorded in sustaining a digital Nigeria.

Adamu who was ably represented by the Ministry’s Director for ICT, Mr. Gbenga Oderemi, expressed the Ministry’s commitment to equipping their institutions with the requisite skills to produce middle and high-level manpower needed to play an active role in the country’s drive for development.

“There is need for us to improve the existing teaching methodology in our schools and our commitment is to provide digital skills for our students as demonstrated in our policies, strategies and initiatives”, he said.

On his part, the Chief Host of the event, Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, stated that the conference reflects the strong ambition and commitment of the Nation’s leadership to transform Nigeria into a knowledge and skills-based economy.

He expressed the government’s target of attaining 95% digital literacy in the country by 2030, noting that “even though it is ambitious, it is attainable and with this partnership, we will certainly achieve this 95% digital literacy before 2030”.

Other dignitaries present at the event were the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta who was ably represented, the Director General of the National Identity Management Commission, Engr. Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, the National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, the Postmaster General of the Nigerian Postal Services, Dr. Ismail Adewusi who was ably represented, the Managing Director, Nigerian Communications and Satellite, Dr. Abimbola Alale who was represented among many others.


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