MTN and IHS Agree Landmark Mobile Tower Outsourcing Agreement in Nigeria
MTN has reached an agreement in principle with IHS Holding Limited (IHS) for the transfer of its towers business, comprising of up to 9,151 of the company’s mobile network towers in the country.
The agreement was pushed through in line with continued efforts to raise service levels for customers within Nigeria and, as part of the transaction, the towers will be transferred to a new company which will be joint-owned by MTN and IHS, with the latter having full operational control of the underlying business.
The new towers company will market independent infrastructure sharing services to other mobile operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Nigeria. The transaction is expected to close in Q4 2014.
“We are delighted to have entered into a further transfer transaction with IHS, in our largest African market,” said Sifiso Dabengwa, Group President and CEO of MTN Group.
“IHS’s deep knowledge and considerable experience in the sector will help drive efficiencies and enhance our network uptime, allowing us to concentrate on further raising our own service levels, improving the customer experience and ensuring we remain the number one operator in Nigeria.”
This is the ninth tower transaction for IHS and its fifth with MTN following the transactions in Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Rwanda and Zambia that took place in 2012 and 2013. On completion of this transaction, IHS will manage over 20,000 towers in Africa.
“This is a significant and transformational agreement for IHS that doubles the size of our business and confirms our position as the leading mobile infrastructure company in Africa,” Issam Darwish, CEO of IHS Holdings, said. “It gives me great pleasure to be agreeing this deal with MTN, a partner we have worked with for more than ten years and with whom we have an excellent relationship.
I am confident that MTN’s customers and management will benefit almost immediately from IHS’s focus on quality of service, innovative tower management and sustainable energy approach.”
As part of the deal, the new towers company has committed more than US$500 million of additional investment over four years into tower upgrades and a maintenance programme to improve quality of service and enhance the customer experience on the MTN Nigeria network.
In addition, further investments will be made into IHS’s centralised Network Operations Centre (NOC) in Nigeria to optimise operations and increase the company’s market leading network uptimes of over 99 percent.
There will also be sustained investments in energy efficiency through the deployment of advanced generators, batteries and alternative power solutions to reduce diesel consumption. IHS anticipates creating a considerable number of technical and engineering direct and indirect employment opportunities to be sourced locally in Nigeria.
Michael Ikpoki, MTN Nigeria CEO concluded: “The separation of MTN Nigeria’s mobile network towers and operation of the underlying towers business by IHS reflects a major part of our strategy to optimise network quality and technological assets towards creating value and driving innovation to meet our customers’ needs now and in the long term.
“Indeed, the trends and realities in our industry reveal the increased role of cost efficiency and optimisation of assets in guiding business decisions in order to remain competitive.
“We will continue to embrace strategies that enhance our services to our customers while ensuring our long-term business continuity, without compromising best practice.”
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”