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Orange outsources African tower management

Tower sharing is popular in Africa

Orange has signed a deal to allow pan-African tower operator IHS to manage more than 2,000 of its mobile network towers across Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon for the next 15 years.

The towers will remain Orange’s property and the operator said that it chose IHS because the firm would bring specialist knowledge and skills to improve customer experience whilst reducing Orange’s cost base.

Available space on the towers will also be marketed to rival mobile operators through IHS’ tower sharing model, Orange confirmed.In return, Orange subsidiaries will gain access to available slots on towers that IHS currently owns in Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire.

In October last year, in those same two markets, South African operator group MTN  announced it would sell 931 of its mobile network towers from its Ivory Coast operations to  IHS for $141m, as well as 827 towers from MTN Cameroon for $143m. Under the terms of the agreement, IHS set up two tower companies – one in each country – to manage the towers and other passive infrastructure.

Orange added that IHS’ focus on the passive infrastructure will accelerate network modernisation, and will mean it can increasingly rely on the use of renewable energy to power the network. IHS has committed to building hybrid solar and generator power sites in an attempt to cut diesel consumption at these sites by up to 70 per cent.

“Sharing passive infrastructure is a compelling opportunity for Orange to offer a better service to its customers in Africa and the Middle East through improved network coverage and reliability,” said Marc Rennard, executive director in charge of Africa, Middle East and Asia for the Orange Group.

“It also allows us to drive efficiencies, reduce costs and manage the particular conditions in emerging markets such as the cost of energy and accessibility of sites. This agreement leaves open the possibility for Orange subsidiaries elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East to look into similar partnerships.”

Issam Darwish, CEO and founder of IHS, also voiced his belief that placing tower infrastructure in the hands of mobile tower specialists benefits consumers, businesses, local economies as well as the operator. He said that the firm’s 12 years experience in the market and its relationships with operators and equipment suppliers allows it to bring improvements across the value chain.

“Through innovation and our engineering experience we are also able to bring environmental benefits to Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon through a more efficient energy mix using solar power and the most up-to-date generator equipment,” added Darwish.

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