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MTN's Bayobab expands fiber network across Africa, boosting connectivity. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

MTN’s annual results highlight its presence and growth in various African markets, including Uganda, Ivory Coast, and the Central African Republic 

The company's wholesale fibre subsidiary, Bayobab, is expanding its reach by incorporating nine dedicated fibre companies in these territories, supported by necessary operating licenses.

During the fourth quarter, Bayobab received new fibre operating licenses in key markets such as Uganda, Ivory Coast, and the Central African Republic, further solidifying its position in these regions. Additionally, Bayobab completed the acquisition of MTN Zambia's fibre network in a sale-and-leaseback transaction, marking a significant milestone in the structural separation of fibre assets under its Ambition 2025 strategy.

Bayobab has also enhanced its network infrastructure with specialized routes, including the East to West Africa corridor, which strengthens terrestrial fibre connectivity for countries along this path. In the subsea fibre business, Bayobab celebrated the landing of the 2Africa subsea cable in Ghana in November 2023, followed by the Nigeria landing in February 2024.

CEO Ralph Mupita emphasized the company's commitment to expansion, particularly through the East2West fibre build-out project with Africa50, representing an investment of over US$320mn. This initiative is crucial for ensuring reliable connectivity, especially in light of recent cable disruptions.

In 2023, Bayobab expanded its fibre network by approximately 7,000km, bringing its total proprietary fibre inventory to 114,000km. The wholesaler reported an 8.1% year-on-year growth in external revenue, amounting to US$372.3mn. Within its Communication Platforms unit, external revenue increased by 9.2% year-on-year, driven by strategic partnerships in application-to-person SMS services.

Bayobab also collaborated with global mobile networks to launch over 6,800 roaming services, making international roaming more affordable for MTN subscribers across Africa. However, the company's Fibre segment's external revenue remained flat year-on-year at US$39.7mn, although new fixed connectivity infrastructure deals worth US$24.4mn were secured during the year.

Furthermore, MTN provided updates on its market exits, including the ongoing sale of its operations in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry to Telecel. The company anticipates expense efficiencies of between ZAR 7 billion (US$37.19mn) and ZAR 8 billion (US$42.51mn) over the next three years following the completion of this deal.

MTN's decision to exit certain markets, such as Yemen, Syria, and most recently, Afghanistan, reflects its strategic focus on optimising its operations and resources to drive sustainable growth in key markets across Africa.

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