close
close
blog

Asia’s richest man to provide critical 5G broadband services in Ghana

Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is set to enter Africa with a telecommunications company, seeking to win mobile broadband customers in a high-growth market.

Radisys Corp., a unit of Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd., will provide key network infrastructure, applications and smartphones for Ghana-based Next-Gen InfraCo., according to its CEO, Harkirit Singh.

He outlined the plans ahead of the announcement of NGIC’s launch on Monday in Mumbai, India’s financial hub.

NGIC, which plans to begin operations later this year, will provide 5G broadband services to mobile operators and internet service providers in Ghana.

The company “is built on the premise of creating affordable digital services in emerging markets,” Singh told Bloomberg News.

Other strategic partners of NGIC include Nokia Oyj, Indian outsourcer Tech Mahindra Ltd. and Microsoft Corp., which has increasingly shifted its focus to the telecom business following the acquisition of two cloud networking companies in 2020.

Ghana, a West African country with a population of just over 33 million, has three main operators: MTN Ghana, Telecel Ghana and AT, which changed its name from AirtelTigo last year after Bharti Airtel Ltd and Millicom International Cellular SA sold their shares.

NGIC’s strategic partners, technological prowess and the company’s possession of Ghana’s only 5G license will help it build broadband services at scale, a huge expense for individual mobile operators, Singh said.

Two African telecommunications companies, Ascend Digital Solutions Ltd. and K-NET, have a combined 55% stake in the new company, Singh said.

The Ghanaian government will own just under 10% of NGIC, while local mobile operators and private investors will retain the remaining shares in the company. Singh is also the CEO of Ascend.

NGIC has the exclusive right to offer 5G services in Ghana for a decade, although its license is valid for 15 years.

The company’s capital investment over three years is $145 million, according to Singh.

The company is looking to emulate the success of Ambani’s Jio Infocomm Ltd in India.

Jio launched telecom services in India in late 2016 with low-cost data and free voice calls, forcing some rivals to close and others to consolidate.

He is widely credited with making mobile data affordable for hundreds of millions of Indians.

Jio is currently India’s largest mobile operator with 470 million users.

The government of Ghana has set the ambitious goal of digitally connecting the entire country over the next six years. NGIC will provide “affordable mobile broadband services and devices to the people of Ghana, replicating the success of India’s low-cost mobile data revolution,” Ghana’s Minister of Communications and Digitalization Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said in a statement. .

The Reliance-NGIC partnership is also a diplomatic victory for India, which has sought to counter China’s growing influence in Africa through measures such as digital inclusion.

None of the strategic partners, including Reliance, currently own shares in NGIC. But the company will give them the option to accept part of their payments as equity in the future, Singh said.

“We have to be successful first to show the value we create before they arrive,” Singh said. “That’s the discussion we’re having with them.”

Related Articles

Back to top button