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Indian billionaire Ambani targets African telecom market with new venture

Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is set to venture into Africa with a new telecom project, which plans to capture mobile broadband customers in this rapidly growing market.

Mukesh Ambani
  • Mukesh Ambani's company, Reliance Industries Ltd., is venturing into Africa with a new telecom project in Ghana
  • The project, Next-Gen InfraCo (NGIC), plans to offer 5G broadband services to mobile operators and internet service providers in Ghana
  • The Reliance-NGIC partnership is seen as a diplomatic win for India in countering China's growing influence in Africa through digital initiatives
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Radisys Corp., a subsidiary of Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd., will supply essential network infrastructure, applications, and smartphones for Ghana-based Next-Gen InfraCo, Bloomberg reported.

Harkirit Singh, NGIC’s executive director, outlined these plans ahead of NGIC’s launch announcement scheduled for Monday in Mumbai, India’s financial hub.

NGIC, which plans to start operations by the end of this year, will offer 5G broadband services to mobile operators and internet service providers in Ghana.

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"The company is based on a premise of building affordable digital services in emerging markets," said Singh.

Other strategic partners in NGIC include Nokia Oyj, Indian outsourcer Tech Mahindra Ltd., and Microsoft Corp., which has increasingly sharpened its focus on the telecom business following its acquisition of two cloud networking firms in 2020.

Ghana, a West African country with a population of just over 33 million, has three main operators: MTN Ghana, Vodafone Ghana and state-run AirtelTigo.

NGIC’s strategic partners, its technological prowess and the company’s possession of Ghana’s only 5G license will help it build broadband services at scale, a huge expense for individual mobile carriers, Singh said.

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Two African telecom firms, Ascend Digital Solutions Ltd. and K-NET, hold a combined stake of 55% in the new company, according to Singh, who is also the chief executive of Ascend.

The Ghanaian government will own just under 10% of NGIC, while local mobile operators and private investors will hold the remaining shares.

NGIC has secured exclusive rights to offer 5G services in Ghana for the next decade, with its license extending for 15 years. According to Singh, the company's capital expenditure for the first three years is projected at $145 million.

The Reliance-NGIC partnership marks a diplomatic win for India, aiming to counter China's growing influence in Africa through initiatives like digital inclusion.

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