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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Ericsson wins Nigeria contracts
Sweden's Ericsson to supply all three GSM operators for Nigeria's new cell-phone system
Ericsson to supply Nigeria's GSM operators
Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson has won a contract to supply all three GSM operators in what is potentially Africa's biggest telecoms market.

The deal with the Nigerian operators is a five year contract but few details are available.

Ericsson will supply the infrastructure for the mobile services, install the networks and also supply some handsets.

Its aim is to sign up between five and ten million subscribers in the next five years.

The three operators with which Ericsson has signed a deal are South Africa's MTN (Mobile Telecoms networks), Econet Wireless and Nitel.

While MTN and Econet have already launched their mobile services, Nitel has missed its launch deadline and is now due to launch in the coming weeks.

Huge potential

Nigerian has a population of 125 million, so analysts say potentially it is the largest telecoms market in Africa.

So far it is underdeveloped.

"Nigeria has got the potential to become the largest single African market," Moira Sheridan of Ericsson South Africa told the BBC's World Business Report.


"We are opening up new business opportunities in these markets"

Moira Sheridan
"It is expected to grow very fast, generating expansion orders," she added.

In terms of fixed line telephony, there is currently about one fixed line for every 250 people.

Even the lucky few with a telephone line will likely find that these lines are fairly unreliable.

While some analogue phones are available, many are pinning their hopes on the new GSM networks, to widen the use of telephones.

Opportunities

Many phone companies have been hit hard by the high costs paid for third generation phone licences, fears of slowdown in the US, and falling sales in Western Europe.

The African market should provide an opportunity for profits. Already, the mobile phone market grew 50% last year.

Moira Sheridan says Ericsson recognises the opportunities.

"On this continent we are confirming relationships with leading operators.. and we are also opening up new business opportunities in these markets," she said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Moira Sheridan, Ericsson South Africa
"It is of strategic importance"
The BBC's Alison Gee
"Ericsson is going to supply the infrastructure"
See also:

10 Aug 01 | Business
Nigeria kicks off mobile competition
07 Aug 01 | Africa
Mobile use to mushroom in Nigeria
04 Jun 01 | Business
Nigeria doubles phone charges
19 Jan 01 | Business
Nigeria awards telecoms licences
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