Pan African Towers (PAT) Limited, a Nigerian firm, has signed a $20 million infrastructure investment deal with Canadian firm, Watt Renewable Corporation. The partnership will see Watt Renewable provide alternative energy solutions like solar and other renewable source to all towers owned and managed by PAT in Nigeria, to help the latter reduce exposure by as much as 50%.
CEO of PAT, Wole Abu, said the deal is significant, because “it is a milestone in our journey of innovation, service delivery, and pushing Nigeria to the broadband target. This is at the forefront of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC’s) agenda for setting up Infrastructure Company.”
Abu said the deal will impact greatly and positively on the quality of service both voice, and data in the country, and cited the erratic power supply situation as one of the major challenges confronting telecoms operators in Nigeria, which appears not to be improving.
He said the erratic power supply “is taking a huge chunk of money from the operators. So, there is a need to act fast before we have issues. PAT and Watt Renewable Corporation deal will gladly address some of these lapses.”
Abu revealed that PAT manages about 1,000 towers in Nigeria, which, according to him, will double by year-end, adding that the firm also has footprints in Ghana.
PAT Financial Controller, Seun Fajebe explained that it is a partnership, where the tower firm need not put money down because there are investment partners.
According to Fajebe, “it means as PAT, we need not invest in power facilities at the site by ourselves; we have a technical partner, who handles all that to ensure that there is power at all time. Before now, those sites run on conventional power, but with the new deal, we now have alternative power supply including solar energy, back up batteries, and the conventional power as a third layer, making it three in one. With this new move, the probability of the sites going down has been completely checked.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Watt Renewable, Oluwole Eweje, said the partnership is an infrastructure based one, adding that the Nigerian subsidiary will provide alternative power supply to PAT, to help it cut expenses on electricity generation by half.
Eweje said “we are not just providing power to a business, what we are also doing is to use that as an anchor station to provide power to communities that are without power within the country. We are looking at connecting at about 4,000 new connections, businesses and residential homes. PAT has towers across the country, even in rural, semi-urban and urban areas; we shall be providing them with the facilities.”
He added that “we have been working on this project since last year before we concluded recently. It is a $20 million (7.2 billion naira) deal. It is a long term project. We have got some international investors on this for us. In the first phase, about 45 sites will be rolled out; we are targeting growing organically in the country”.
Also speaking on the development, the Director of Investor Relations, Watt Renewable, Sherisse Alexander, noted that for improved services, partnership between telecoms operators and power firms are critical to the development of the telecoms sector in Nigeria.