MTN, Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator by subscribers, on Thursday afternoon confirmed that it has acquired Visafone, Nigeria’s wireless network provider as it vies to deploy broadband internet in Africa’s largest economy. By Gugu Lourie
The news follows market speculation on Thursday that MTN has acquired Visafone and the deal has been given a go-ahead by the country’s communications industry watchdog, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The deal seems to issue a clear message that MTN is committed to the lucrative Nigerian market despite a possible R59 billion ($3.9 billion) fine imposed by the NCC on the South African-based mobile phone operator for failure to register customers.
MTN is challenging the matter in the Nigerian court.
“The acquisition which seeks to leverage resources for service enhancement is also reflective of our concerted efforts to deepen the growth and roll out of broadband services across the country in support of the National Broadband Plan for the benefit of Nigerians,” said MTN executive, Amina Oyagbola.
“The acquisition of Visafone highlights MTN’s commitment to Nigeria. More capacity will facilitate enhanced product/service offerings and experience in the data space to the delight of our valued customers. Voice is still King. However, data is becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives and our energies are focused on enhancing data and internet services to the benefit of our customers and the country at large.”
The deal enables MTN Nigeria to utilise Visafone’s 800MHz spectrum to launch fourth generation long term evolution (4GLTE) services.
Visafone, which was incorporated in Nigeria on June 20, 2007 following the acquisition of Cellcom received its Unified Access Service Licence as a telecom operator from the NCC on August 1, 2007 positioned it to offer mobile, fixed and any other telecommunications service to its subscribers.
Oyagbola said MTN Nigeria was committed to exploring avenues for meeting its customers’ increasing data needs in line with its vision ‘to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world to our customers.
“As we work to maximize our data capabilities towards achieving broadband of international quality, our objective is to ensure that Nigerians experience a boost in the quality of broadband internet services translating to the much needed enhanced data speeds and value to enhance personal and business productivity.”