The move follows its December launch of a new data centre business called Nxtra
Airtel Africa has created a wholesale fibre unit called Telesonic that the operator said will transform the wholesale data market across the continent. The operator’s fibre assets and submarine cable systems will be in the new unit, which it said encompasses 75,000 kilometres of terrestrial fibre across Airtel Africa’s 14 markets. Additionally, the company has strategically invested in the 2Africa submarine cable system.
The creation on the unit follows December move where Airtel launched a new data centre business Nxtra, which aims to build one of the largest network of data centres in Africa with high-capacity data centres in major cities located strategically across Airtel Africa’s footprint, complementing its existing edge sites.
The first major Nxtra facility in Lagos, Nigeria, will deliver 34MW and is designed to host high density racks and integrate the latest best practice construction to achieve 1.3 power usage effectiveness (PUE). It is expected to be live in mid-2025. Airtel believes Nxtra, and now Telesonic, will offer secure and scalable integrated solutions to global hyperscalers, large African enterprises, startups, SMEs and governments. To deliver on Nxtra’s vision, Airtel Africa appointed Yashnath Issur, the former head of global data centre portfolio management at Amazon Web Services, as CEO.
This year will prove to be a busy time for long-serving outgoing CEO Segun Ogunsanya (above, centre) who announced his retirement in early January. Ogunsanya, who joined Airtel in 2012, ran the Nigeria operations of the company for nine years before his appointment as CEO of the Group in 2021. Airtel announced Sunil Taldar as managing director and CEO from 1 July 2024, although Ogunsanya will continue to advise the chairman, the Airtel Africa Board and CEO for a 12-month period.
Speaking of the formation of Telesonic, Ogunsanya said “The establishment of Airtel Africa Telesonic Limited underscores Airtel Africa’s commitment to addressing Africa’s needs for the digital revolution by providing cutting-edge fibre-optic solutions that will empower businesses, education, healthcare, and communities at large.”
He added: “No doubt, Africa is experiencing a digital revolution, with surging demand for data across various sectors especially by the continent’s growing youth population. Our investment signifies not just a technological advancement but also a catalyst for progress, connecting people and ideas across borders.”
Last year in India, parent Bharti Airtel merged its Telesonic fibre business back into the company after abandoning its massive reorganisation following positive vibes from the Indian Government’s telecoms reform package.
Nigeria tower deal
Earlier this month, Airtel Africa’s largest subsidiary Airtel Nigeria announced a commitment to take 3,950 tenancies, on IHS Towers, over the next five years (with the majority expected over 2024/2025) and extended the term of its existing tenancies covering approximately 6,000 tenancies until December 2031. The agreement includes 2,500 colocations in addition to 5G amendments and build to suit sites to be owned and operated by IHS Nigeria.
“The expansion and renewal of our relationship with Airtel Nigeria is a testament to our continued commitment to serving our customers and the connectivity demands of Africa,” said IHS Towers chairman and CEO Sam Darwish. “Airtel Nigeria, as well as Airtel Africa who we serve in other markets in Africa, has been a long-term partner of IHS, and I am delighted that we continue to strengthen our collaboration to help facilitate mobile connectivity in our largest market, supporting our customers in rolling out new sites throughout Nigeria.”