| DUBAI, April 2
DUBAI, April 2 Nigerian infrastructure company
IHS will manage 2,000 transmitter towers for France
Telecom in Cameroon and Ivory Coast in a deal that the
French company says will cut its costs.
France Telecom, which often operates under the brand name
Orange and has units in about 20 countries in the Middle East
and Africa, is on a drive to stabilise operating profits.
Its subsidiaries Côte d'Ivoire Telecom, Orange Côte d'Ivoire
and Orange Cameroon will retain ownership of the base stations
that transmit mobile phone signals, while IHS will manage
passive infrastructure such as the electricity supply, the
companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
IHS will also be able to rent tower space to other mobile
operators and the France Telecom subsidiaries can use other
towers IHS owns in Cameroon and Ivory Coast.
"It 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," Marc Rennard, Executive
Director in charge of Africa, Middle East and Asia for the
Orange Group, a unit of France Telecom, said in the statement.
He said other units in the region might make similar deals.
Building and maintaining mobile towers in Africa is
typically more expensive than in other regions because of high
security costs and electricity shortages that often require
towers to be powered by generators, while new roads may need to
be built to reach rural areas.
This has prompted operators to sell or lease out towers to
specialist companies such as IHS. Other major players in Africa
include Eaton Towers and Helios Towers.
IHS owns about 3,100 towers. With the France Telecom deal,
it now manages a further 5,000 sites in Africa including South
Africa's MTN, India's Bharti Airtel and
Etisalat's Nigeria unit.
It operates in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Sudan and
(Editing by Dinesh Nair/Ruth Pitchford)