Telkom South Africa is to invest around USD1 billion in the expansion of the network of Multilinks, its Nigerian subsidiary, over the next five years. Telkom acquired Multilinks Nigeria, holder of a national unified access licence, earlier this year for USD280 million. Multilinks’ CEO, Justina Ramayia, said that his firm has begun an aggressive rollout program to increase network capacity and achieve coverage of all 36 states in the next five years. At present the CDMA2000 1x wireless in the local loop (WiLL) operator has infrastructure covering six states, including Lagos and Federal Capital Abuja. The expansion will see Multilinks’ network extended north to Kano and east to Benin City in Edo State within twelve months, said Ramayia, adding that with the new investment planned, the firm would ultimately achieve network coverage of 80% of the population with CDMA 2000 1xEV-DO Rev A technology.
Multilinks began operations as a fixed-wireless public telephony operator (PTO) in 1996. It acquired a unified access service licence last year, allowing it to provide fixed, mobile, data, long-distance and international services throughout Nigeria. South African national PTO Telkom was formed in September 1991 and is the largest communications services provider on the African continent, based on turnover and assets. It is 38%-owned by the South African government.