March 18, 2016: ECP portfolio company IHS Towers was featured in the Financial Times on March 10, 2016 after announcing that it had agreed to buy 1,200 mobile cellular towers from Helios Towers Nigeria in a move to further consolidate the African mobile infrastructure sector. According to IHS, this is the first in-market consolidation of mobile infrastructure companies in Africa.
IHS established Nigeria’s mobile telecoms infrastructure industry in the early 2000s, and, together with Helios Towers Nigeria, is one of the largest independent operators in the country. In recent years, mobile phone use has boomed across the continent. Nigeria’s growing population, now around 180 million people, are increasingly embracing smartphones, new technology, and data services.
IHS has delivered strong performance in recent years. Since ECP’s investment in 2011, the company has grown by purchasing mobile networks such as MTN and Etisalat. It became the largest towers company in 2013 and has established itself as an industry champion in the African telecoms space. The latest deal demonstrates the growing maturity of the sector as it moves toward full consolidation across the industry, as has happened in Europe.
This latest acquisition continues IHS’ sustained period of network investment and growth. “This transaction is significant in that it combines Africa’s two original tower companies,” said Issam Darwish, Executive Vice Chairman & Group Chief Executive Officer of IHS. “We remain committed to the Nigerian tower market where coverage levels are yet to mature and explosive data growth continues. The growing data traffic and increased smartphone use presents an exciting market opportunity for IHS, with the potential for up to 40,000 more towers required to meet this demand.”