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Econet Group Announces Launch of Cassava Technologies

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Privately held African telecommunications group, Econet, today announced the launch of Cassava Technologies, which brings together Econet’s digital services and digital infrastructure product segments, encompassing fiber broadband networks, data centers, and renewable energy; as well as cloud & cybersecurity, fintech, and digital platforms.

Cassava Technologies, headquartered in London, is Africa’s first integrated tech player of continental scale at the forefront of technology innovation, with operations and activities in most African countries. Its product segments provide digital solutions to over 1 million enterprises and enable access to the internet for over 500 million people. Its Sasai Super App is projected to provide access to fintech services for over 75 million customers across Africa by 2025.

Cassava Technologies aims to empower individuals and businesses in Africa through digital solutions which drive the vision of a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind. The company encompasses well established and leading technology brands, including Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Africa Data Centres, Liquid Cloud, Sasai Fintech, Vaya Technologies, and Distributed Power Technologies.  Cassava Technologies is backed by significant investment and extensive collaboration with some of the world’s largest technology businesses and institutional investors interested in Africa’s nascent but rapidly growing digital economy.

Cassava Technologies is the leading technology enterprise driving Africa’s digital transformation which represents a large and fast-growing addressable market of underserved consumers and businesses. With a total projected population of 1.5 billion1 and approximately 60%2 of the population expected to be urbanized by 2025, there is accelerating demand across the continent for Cassava Technologies’ range of digital services enabled by a digital infrastructure platform of unrivaled scale. The African continent is still marked by low internet penetration and hampered by high costs of internet access despite the projected exponential growth. This, coupled with a significant unbanked population further underlines the huge market opportunity for Cassava Technologies.

Econet Group’s mobile telecoms businesses which include Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Econet LEO (Burundi), Econet Telecom Lesotho, Econet’s investment in Mascom Wireless Botswana, and Econet’s mobile money business, EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe are unaffected and will continue to operate under the Econet Wireless brand.

London-based African telecoms and tech entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Cassava Technologies, said: “Technology creates pathways to democratize access to opportunity. Only through accelerating digital innovation in Africa will we empower individuals, families, businesses, and economies to reach their full potential. As Africa’s economy transitions to digital, there is a tremendous opportunity for increasing connectivity to usher in a new wave of digital tools and solutions that will improve the lives of millions of Africans. This is why we have created Cassava Technologies, to make technology as accessible as cassava “fufu” in Africa.”

Hardy Pemhiwa, CEO of Cassava Technologies, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of Cassava Technologies. Our unmatched fiber broadband, data centres and renewable energy infrastructure, paired with fintech, cloud, cybersecurity, and on-demand digital platforms, will accelerate Africa’s digital transformation. As Cassava Technologies, with a footprint covering more than 15 countries, we are well positioned to meet the growing needs of businesses operating in Africa and expand access to fintech and other digital services to enterprises, small & medium size businesses, and consumers across Africa.”

Cassava Technologies’ businesses and its founder-led management team have a 25-year track record of success and a rich history of innovation in Africa. Cassava Technologies operates the largest independent pan-African terrestrial fiber broadband network, which spans more than 62,000 miles, covering more than 300 towns and cities across Africa from Cape Town to Cairo. It also operates Africa’s largest footprint of interconnected carrier neutral data centers and the Sasai Super App supporting payments and remittances across the continent. This digital infrastructure is the bedrock of Africa’s digita

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Telecom Giants Invest in Data Centers to Meet Soaring Internet Demand

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Telecommunications - Investors King

Nigeria’s telecommunications industry is experiencing a surge in data center investments as companies strive to accommodate the nation’s rapidly increasing internet consumption.

This move became imperative after a report by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) showed that monthly internet usage has skyrocketed by 502% since 2019.

Monthly internet usage grew from 125,149.86 terabytes (TB) in December 2019 to 753,388.77 TB in March 2024.

This dramatic increase is primarily driven by the growing appetite for streaming services and other online activities, necessitating a robust infrastructure to manage the escalating demand.

MTN Nigeria and Airtel, which together control 66.28% of the country’s mobile subscriber base, are at the forefront of this infrastructure expansion. Both companies have announced substantial investments in new data centers to enhance their service delivery capabilities.

MTN Nigeria’s Expansion

In June, MTN Nigeria unveiled plans to construct a 1,500-rack, Tier 4 data center. According to Mohammed Rufai, MTN’s Chief Technical Officer, this facility will be instrumental in meeting the burgeoning data demands and digital needs of businesses and consumers alike.

“Our facility will provide the space and services needed, enabling companies to digitalize their operations and improve efficiency,” Rufai said.

“With sufficient headroom, we can cater to growth and sudden demand rise, ensuring a seamless experience for our subscribers.”

Airtel’s Groundbreaking Initiative

In March, Airtel broke ground on its first data center in Lagos, marking the beginning of a major investment drive in digital infrastructure.

The Nxtra by Airtel data center will be the first of five hyper-scale data centers to be developed by Airtel Africa. These centers aim to improve the speed of access to digital services and reduce the cost of managing data.

Industry Significance

These investments are poised to significantly enhance Nigeria’s position in the digital economy. Bosun Tijani, the Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy Minister, emphasized the critical role of data in the country’s economic growth.

“Data is a key driver in our economy. Not only do we need to connect our people, but we also must invest in the digital economy. Through the investment that companies like Airtel have made in our economy, we are fully able to participate in the digital economy,” Tijani said.

Despite these efforts, Nigeria still lags behind other African countries such as South Africa and Kenya in terms of data center capacity. South Africa, for example, has attracted investments from global tech giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Oracle.

Future Prospects

According to a report by Arizton Advisory and Intelligence, Nigeria’s data center market, valued at $230 million in 2022, is expected to reach $415 million by 2028. Industry experts highlight a significant data center gap, with current infrastructure falling short of the necessary capacity.

Ayotunde Coker, CEO of Open Access Data Centers (OADC), noted, “We do not have enough data centres. Analysis shows we need around 700 data centres but only have about 100. However, we expect significant progress in the next 12 months, with new data centres being launched.”

Economic Impact

The development of new data centers is expected to localize more content from international companies, improving user experience and network efficiency. These investments will also contribute significantly to economic growth, making Lagos a key hub of digital infrastructure on the continent.

“Lagos is going to be the key hub of digital infrastructure in Africa. Right now, South Africa has 50 percent of installed data center capacity, but Lagos is starting to shift in the implementation of digital infrastructure,” Coker added.

With these strategic investments, Nigeria is well on its way to bolstering its digital economy, ensuring it remains competitive in the increasingly data-driven global landscape.

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MTN Nigeria Boosts Tax Contribution to N549.3bn, Expands Network Nationwide

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MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has announced a significant contribution of N549.3 billion in taxes and levies to the Nigerian government for the year 2023.

This milestone, detailed in the company’s 2023 Sustainability Report filed with the Nigeria Exchange Limited, underscores MTN Nigeria’s role as a key player in the nation’s economic and technological advancement.

The report highlights MTN Nigeria’s expansive growth in connectivity, reaching 79.7 million people and achieving a remarkable 92.9 percent nationwide coverage.

This expansion is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide and enhance communication infrastructure across Nigeria.

“We are proud of the progress we have made so far, expanding connectivity to 79.7 million people, achieving 92.9 percent nationwide coverage, and investing N2.6 billion in corporate social investment programs that have impacted over 58,000 lives through the MTN Foundation,” the telecom giant stated.

In addition to its tax contributions, MTN Nigeria’s capital expenditure rose to N571.0 billion in 2023, reflecting a 13.2 percent increase from the previous year.

This substantial investment was directed towards enhancing infrastructure and service delivery, reinforcing MTN’s commitment to improving customer experience and expanding digital solutions across the country.

Karl Toriola, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, expressed pride in the company’s progress and reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability and community impact.

“We remain steadfast in our pursuit of excellence and committed to continuously improving our sustainability practices while striving for an even greater impact in the communities we serve,” he said.

MTN Nigeria’s comprehensive approach to sustainability and growth is evident in its corporate social investment programs.

The MTN Foundation, which received N2.6 billion in funding, has positively affected over 58,000 lives through various initiatives aimed at education, health, and economic empowerment.

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Broadband Penetration Rises to 43.53% in Nigeria, Says NCC

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has released its latest statistics, revealing a steady increase in broadband penetration across the country.

The data shows that Nigeria’s broadband penetration rose to 43.53% in March 2024, a significant recovery from previous declines.

According to the NCC, the total number of active internet subscriptions grew from 158.2 million in April 2023 to 164.4 million in March 2024.

This increase in internet users has been accompanied by a rise in broadband penetration, which saw a consistent upward trend over six consecutive months.

The report highlighted that broadband penetration had dropped from 48.28% in May 2022 to as low as 40.85% in September 2022.

However, it began to climb again in October 2023, reaching 41.01%, and continued to improve each month thereafter, peaking at 43.53% in March 2024.

Monthly Breakdown of Active Internet Subscriptions:

  • April 2023: 158.2 million
  • May 2023: 159.6 million
  • June 2023: 159.5 million
  • July 2023: 159.5 million
  • August 2023: 159.1 million
  • September 2023: 160.1 million
  • October 2023: 161.1 million
  • November 2023: 162 million
  • December 2023: 163.8 million
  • January 2024: 161.9 million
  • February 2024: 163.3 million
  • March 2024: 164.4 million

The report attributes the accumulation of active internet subscriptions to various technologies, including Mobile GSM, Mobile Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Fixed Wired, Wired and Wireless, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Monthly Breakdown of Broadband Penetration:

  • November 2023: 41.87%
  • December 2023: 43.71%
  • January 2024: 42.53%
  • February 2024: 43.08%
  • March 2024: 43.53%

Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, commended the NCC for its regulatory efforts, which he said played a crucial role in the gradual rise in broadband penetration.

Adebayo noted that the federal government’s previous ban on SIM activation had significantly impacted broadband penetration across networks.

However, he praised the NCC for its effective regulation and called for the government to grant the NCC full regulatory independence to address key issues affecting telecom operations in Nigeria.

“The NCC’s management has done an excellent job in stabilizing and improving broadband penetration in the country,” Adebayo stated. “We hope the government will continue to support the commission’s efforts by ensuring it has the necessary autonomy to implement policies that will further enhance telecom operations in Nigeria.”

The NCC’s recent statistics provide a positive outlook for the country’s digital landscape, reflecting ongoing efforts to expand internet access and improve connectivity for millions of Nigerians.

As the country continues to recover from the post-COVID economic challenges, these gains in internet and broadband usage are seen as vital for driving economic growth and technological advancement.

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