Celtel to invest USD1 billion to sort out network problems

12 Feb 2008

Celtel Nigeria, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Zain Group, has commited USD1 billion investment for 2008 to improve network capacity, network resilience, network reliability, power, security and operational performance. At a press conference Mr Bayo Ligali, the cellco’s CEO, said, ‘In 2007, we committed over USD1 billion in network expansion in terms of coverage, capacity and quality. We are committing another USD1 billion this year and we are optimistic that by the end of this year, the hue and cry over quality of service will almost disappear.’ Mr Ligali admitted that the quality of service of the company was not at the standard it should be. ‘It is certain that our customers and indeed all telecommunications subscribers in Nigeria are less than satisfied with the quality of service on offer today,’ he said.

The officer went on to outline how the money would be spent. Nokia Siemens Networks has been engaged to build three fibre-optic rings totalling 4,000km in length. Ongoing expansion and upgrades of Celtel’s microwave backbone will add 3,000km of new backhaul routes, doubling network capacity. In addition, the cellco has planning permission for 1,000 new base transceiver stations (BTS) in 2008, in addition to the 3,100 already installed.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Celtel Nigeria was the third-placed Nigerian cellco in terms of subscribers at the end of 2007, with just under 11.1 million customers, placing it behind market leaders MTN Nigeria and Glo Mobile. All three networks have come in for severe criticism from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in recent months for poor network quality and are currently subject to a ban on promotions.