(MENAFN) London-based Eaton Towers unveiled plans to set up 250 transmitter towers in Africa next year, driven by a growing internet use in the continent, Reuters reported.
The tower sharing firm will build about 100 towers in Uganda, 100 in South Africa and 50 in Ghana next year, according to CEO Alan Harper, increasing its portfolio to 1,750 from current 1,500.
The company's customers include Vodafone, South Africa's MTN and India's Bharti Airtel, and it will make more acquisitions next year, Harper added.
He said also that mobile networks will have to provide the means for people to access the internet, as most African countries don't have an extensive fixed-line infrastructure.
Africa has the lowest internet usage in the world due to low wages, high subscription costs and a relative lack of infrastructure, but more people are getting online as smartphone prices fall and telecom operators improve their networks.
Internet use in sub-Saharan Africa will rise to 24.7 percent of the population by 2020 from 10.5 percent in 2010, according to Euromonitor International, to be the fastest growing region globally.
Many mobile phone operators are increasingly looking at splitting costs through bilateral tower-sharing deals, as most African countries offer low revenue per user and due to the stiff competition between the rivals.
Most effective way to split costs is selling towers to specialist firms such as Eaton, which can then host multiple operators at the same site.