Nigerian mobile-phone manufacturer, Tingo Mobile, has agreed to buy a majority stake in Mass Telecom Innovation Nigeria Plc (MTI) for about N4 billion ($25 million) to develop rural broadband in the country.
Tingo will acquire 51 per cent of cable-network operator MTI, Chief Executive Officer, Dozy Mmobuozi told Bloomberg in an interview in Lagos yesterday.
The company will be rebranded and remain listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, he said.
Phone calls to numbers on MTI's website didn't connect.
"We're using the acquisition to reach out to the mass market," Mmobuozi said, adding that the Lagos-based MTI's "assets from base stations to licence and goodwill and other things, will help penetrate rural Nigeria."
Telecommunications companies including China's Huawei Technologies Company and Johannesburg-based MTN Group Limited are expanding in Nigeria to tap a growing market for mobile and data usage.
Africa's biggest economy had 169 million mobile-phone subscriptions as at March for a population of about 170 million, the Nigerian Communications Commission said on its website.
With many users owning more than one phone, subscriber numbers are expected to grow to more than 200 million in 2017, according to London-based research company Informa Telecoms & Media. MTI's shares were untraded at 50 kobo yesterday.
The spokeswoman for the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Nwando Ajene doesn't have any information about the proposed acquisition, she said by e-mail.
Tingo said yesterday it will start selling three smart phones in Nigeria, the first time its devices will be made available to the public rather than to government or corporate customers.
The Tingo T5, T500 and T561 models cost 10,000 naira to 18,000 naira and are made locally, Mmobuozi said.
The Abuja-based company also has operations in Kenya and Malaysia. Tingo is making GPS tracking systems and mobile point-of-sale devices that can be attached to its phones as it looks to expand its Internet-based services business. New products include a chat application that localises emoticons, using Nigerian cultural references.
"In the next two months, we must have hit a 10 million subscriber base for our Tingo Chat app," Mmobuozi said.