HomeAccessMTN secures fibre licences in nine new territories 

    MTN secures fibre licences in nine new territories 


    Markets mentioned in the company’s annual results include Uganda, Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic

    MTN’s wholesale fibre subsidiary Bayobab is continuing to expand its footprint with the incorporation of nine dedicated fibre companies supported by the required licences to operate in each territory. Bayobab received the new fibre operating licences during Q4 in key markets including Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire and Central African Republic. 

    Bayobab also acquired the fibre network of MTN Zambia in a sale-and-leaseback transaction to complete the first milestone in the structural separation of fibre assets under its Ambition 2025 strategy. MTN group has long argued that the value of of its fibre assets is not truly reflected in its share price. 

    The wholesaler reinforced its network with specialised routes, notably the East to West Africa corridor, which bolsters terrestrial fibre for countries along its path. In the subsea fibre business, Bayobab closed the year with the landing of the 2Africa subsea cable in Ghana in November 2023, which was followed by the Nigeria landing post year end, in February 2024.  

    “We’re expanding with Africa50 with the east to west fibre build-out [Project East2West], spending over $320m to build that link,” MTN group CEO Ralph Mupita told the media. “Given the cable cut we saw a week ago, that is obviously an important investment going forward. The fibre structural separation is a key priority for us and we’ll have more to say as the year goes on.”   

    In 2023, Bayobab rolled out around 7,000km of new fibre, augmenting its total proprietary fibre inventory to 114 000km. The wholesaler recorded an 8.1% YoY growth in external revenue, amounting to $372.3m. Within its Communication Platforms unit, external revenue rose by 9.2% YoY, driven by application-to-person SMS strategic partnerships.  

    Collaborating with global mobile networks, Bayobab launched more than 6.8k roaming services, enhancing international roaming affordability for MTN subscribers throughout Africa. The company’s Fibre segment’s external revenue was flat YoY at US$39.7 million. This performance was supported by new fixed connectivity infrastructure deals valued at $24.4m secured in the year. 

    Some exits too 

    MTN also used its results call to update on several market exits, suggesting the sale of its Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry operations to Telecel was still in progress. The operator hopes to accrue between ZAR 7 billion and ZAR 8 billion in expense efficiencies over the next three years as a result of the deal once complete.  

    MTN is the second largest telco in Guinea with around a quarter of the market, but well behind Orange (69%). The Guinea move follows exits from Yemen, Syria, and most recently, Afghanistan.