Jio bypasses telco role, as Radisys, NGIC team up to boost Africa’s 5G infra | Company Business News – Mint

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However, two senior industry officials, on the condition of anonymity, told Mint that for now, Reliance Jio will not enter the African markets as a telecom service provider (TSP).

According to a company statement, Radisys will collaborate to help NGIC build the first 4G and 5G network infrastructure across Ghana to provide affordable mobile internet.

The US-based telecommunications infrastructure firm, which was acquired by Mukesh Ambani-backed Jio Platforms in 2018, is the latest entity to join the public-private partnership between the government of Ghana, digital infrastructure provider Ascend Digital, Finnish tech and telecom firm Nokia, Swedish telecom firm Ericsson and IT services major Tech Mahindra.

NGIC is a government of Ghana initiative, established in 2007, to boost the country’s telecom infrastructure.

Jio’s Africa strategy

“Reliance Jio as a TSP will not be looking at Africa as a consumer market—the most lucrative opportunity for them would be to expand as an infrastructure provider due to its expertise in large-scale, high-volume and low-cost core telecom infrastructure. This is a substantial expansion area at least for the near future,” one of the two officials cited above said.

“There have been no such talks to integrate Radisys’ role in the project with Jio entering Africa as a TSP, at least for now,” the second official said.

With this initiative Jio, through its subsidiary, will also benefit from NGIC’s 15-year roadmap to roll out pan-Africa 5G telecom infrastructure. 

Collaboration for affordable mobile internet

While NGIC has earmarked $200 million to set up 5G infrastructure across Ghana, Ursula Owusu, minister of communications and digitization for the Republic of Ghana, told Mint that further investments will be made in the coming years.

“The Ghanaian government is an enabler of this initiative, which will bring digital services, e-learning and mobile finance products to the country. It will not be the one fuelling investments though—that will be enabled through the PPP model of NGIC,” Owusu said.   

“The eventual objective will be to create the infrastructure and use an established technology model to roll out latest-generation telecom services all across Africa. The initial investment of $200 million is earmarked for Ghana—expansions beyond us will draw more investments into the region, which can also help create more jobs in the digital economy across Africa,” he added.

To be sure, Bharti Airtel, too, has significant presence as a telecommunications infrastructure provider in Africa. However, it is not a part of the NGIC coalition.

Ghana’s strategic importance 

Ghana is strategically important for infrastructure expansion, said Radisys chief executive Arun Bhikshesvaran. “We are keen to explore any geography around the world where network infrastructure expansion is imminent. The opportunity to build an open, shared network infrastructure that can be licensed by TSPs offers a major area of expansion for us.” 

“Such initiatives will allow us to bring our fully self-developed, indigenous 5G network software stack, as well as the collaboratively-built hardware infrastructure to the region. This will help us leverage our vast network infrastructure and replicate India’s telecom model across global markets,” Bhikshesvaran added.

In FY23, Radisys India reported net operating revenues of $103.9 million, and is looking to expand further in FY24 and beyond. The firm is likely to announce its FY24 results in December.

Africa: The next frontier

According to Prashant Kumar Singhal, emerging markets leader for tech, media and telecom (TMT), EY Global, the move is a logical progression. “If you look at most homegrown network infrastructure companies, you’ll realize that each of them have successfully built the expertise of scale in a high-volume, low-cost India market. This can be replicated across the world at scale, which can add to significant business expansion for most infrastructure providers.” 

Another consultant, seeking anonymity, said ongoing geopolitical concerns could enable Indian telecom infrastructure companies to find more business opportunities in Africa.  “China has already captured a significant part of the African telecommunications network infrastructure market, but geopolitical concerns around China could see conflicts regarding the integration of their network infrastructure in key regions—especially when developing nations are looking to scale up global investments in their digitization journey. India, on this note, stands to benefit.” 

Owusu and Bhikshesvaran, however, declined to comment on whether the strategy was influenced by geopolitical concerns.

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Published: 27 May 2024, 07:39 PM IST

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