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Celtel (Vmobile) GSM Network Expansion, Nigeria




Key Data


Celtel (formerly Vmobile) is a mobile telecommunications company that offers services in more African countries than any other and has in excess of 15 million subscribers. The company is one of the best-known brands in Africa with mobile licenses covering more than 400 million people.

Celtel operates mobile networks in 14 countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The company’s GSM network in Nigeria went live in August 2001 and is a GSM 900/1800 system. The network currently covers over 600 towns and 8,000 communities across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

GSM EXPANSION

In February 2007 Celtel awarded a $50m (N6.5bn) contract to Motorola to provide technology and expert services to expand Celtel’s Nigerian GSM network in the southeast and oil producing Niger Delta regions. These areas are where communications are becoming an absolute necessity because of oil and gas business activity in the area.

The turnkey contract includes comprehensive services to further enhance Celtel network quality. Under the agreement, Motorola will deploy its latest Motorola Reach GSM solutions and provide comprehensive installation, optimisation and management services. The expansion will enable Celtel to increase its subscriber capacity, extend its coverage into new areas and improve the quality of the network.

"The company is one of the best-known brands in Africa with mobile licenses covering more than 400 million people."

This is a first time contract for Motorola with Celtel, although Motorola has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the MTC Group, which is the parent company of Celtel International. As a cost-effective, upgradeable and straightforward solution that offers new features and platforms, GSM is predicted to be a key technology for connecting the next billion subscribers across the world.

FINANCE FOR EXPANSION

During this same timeframe Celtel Nigeria closed a $1.43bn syndicated loan in Lagos and London to refinance existing debts and to finance a new expansion campaign in 2007. The loan consists of a 125bn naira local currency facility arranged by Celtel as the parent company MTC Group and a $450m foreign currency facility arranged and fully underwritten by Citibank.

Celtel Chief Operating Officer Lars Stork, said: "Celtel Nigeria is to invest $1.5bn for the expansion of its telecommunication services in the country this year (2007)… several programmes have been packaged for rural area development in addition to the expansion of telecom services to areas that are yet to be covered by the network.

"Over 500 base stations will be rolled out in the South East region alone this year (2007) to boost network coverage… this region being the commercial nerve centre of the country, deserves a special attention… Our organisation is pursuing an aggressive network expansion programme complemented by the regionalisation of our operations".

Celtel Nigeria CEO, Adebayo Ligali, commented: "We have selected Motorola to implement our network system expansion because of the company’s reliable and trusted technology leadership and its services expertise. Celtel has the utmost confidence and trust that Motorola will support its efforts and its commitment to providing its growing subscriber base, with the best and most advanced telecommunications systems, services and solutions."

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

In November 2006 the South African open source software (OSS) development company, Int Dev Internet Technologies (Int Dev), signed an agreement with VAS Consulting Company Nigeria to install an enterprise solution using the SugarCRM OSS platform, for Celtel Nigeria. The project includes calendaring, event-scheduling, on-demand reporting, Office and Outlook synchronisation, and SMS notification integration. The project was worth R750,000.