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Mukesh Ambani is taking his giant-killer telecom playbook to Africa. Should Airtel be worried?

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Mukesh Ambani is taking his giant-killer telecom playbook to Africa. Should Airtel be worried?

Radisys, a Reliance Industries arm, will provide key infrastructure, applications and smartphones for Next-Gen InfraCo, which is planning to begin operations by the end of this year.
Mukesh Ambani is reportedly venturing into Africa in his chase for mobile broadband customers beyond India. Ambani will be offering a range of 5G shared network infrastructure solutions along with a Ghana-based company.

Radisys, aReliance Industries arm, will reportedly provide key infrastructure, applications and smartphones for Next-Gen InfraCo, which is planning to begin operations by the end of this year.

The company “is based on a premise of building affordable digital services in emerging markets,” Harkirit Singh, the executive director of NGIC, was quoted in a Bloomberg report.

Bharti Airtel runs mobile broadband services in 14 African countries. The Sunil Bharti Mittal-led company is the second-largest telecom operator in the continent.

NGIC owns exclusive right to offer 5G services in Ghana for a decade, though its license is valid for 15 years. The company’s capital expenditure for three years is $145 million, according to report. The company is looking to replicate the success of Ambani’s Jio Infocomm. NGIC is flanked by Nokia Oyj, Tech Mahindra Ltd., and Microsoft, which recently intensified its focus on the telecom sector after bringing two cloud networking companies under its flank in 2020.
Ghana has three main operators: MTN Ghana, Vodafone Ghana and state-run AirtelTigo. Singh feels NGIC‘s partners, combined with its technological capabilities and 5G license, give the company an edge in the market. Two African firms — Ascend Digital Solutions Ltd. and K-NET — hold 55% in the new company. The Ghana government will own just under 10% of NGIC, while local mobile operators and private investors will retain the remaining shares in the firm.

The Reliance-NGIC partnership is also a diplomatic win for India, which has sought to counter China’s surging influence in Africa via measures such as digital inclusion. Reliance does not own any equity in NGIC at present but NGIC may provide option to accept part of their payments as equity in the future, Singh told Bloomberg

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