Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nigeria - diesel and protection for base stations

Zain Employing 8,000 Staff to Protect its Base Stations

Zain Nigeria says that it is now running back up power generators in the bulk of its 3,600 base stations in the country due to continuing problems with the national electricity supply. The company added that it is burning 450 liters of diesel every second to keep its mobile towers operational.

The operator's CEO, Bayo Ligali said that the poor infrastructure in the country was hampering the economy - and in turn would affect the mobile operators as well.

He noted that his firm has to employ some 8,000 security personnel to protect the electricity generators and fuel supplies at its base stations to stop them being stolen. One security guard was killed recently by people breaking into a base station enclosure.

The company is targeting 30 million subscribers over the next three years and will spend some US$1 billion on network improvements.

He was speaking at the rebranding of the network from Celtel to Zain and the expansion of the network operators borderless roaming service.

The operator was recently ordered to offer free airtime worth N175 (US$1.50) to each subscriber due to problems with network reliability. For comparison, according to The Mobile World, the monthly ARPU is US$10 - so the compensation equates to some 15% of the average monthly spend. Rival operator, MTN has also been ordered to make an identical compensation payment to its subscribers.

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