Telecoms networks have become a critical part of Nigeria’s national infrastructure and have changed the way we communicate and interact. IHS Nigeria has played a very significant role in the development of the country’s telecoms industry over the last two decades as the foremost provider of tower operations services to Nigeria’s mobile network operators.

Mohamad Darwish, CEO of IHS Nigeria, has been a driving force in the growth of IHS Nigeria’s operations and in establishing it as the leading tower company in Nigeria. He believes that harnessing the headwinds of change is critical to steering an organisation to growth in an environment where macroeconomic uncertainty, demographic shifts and disruption are the norm.

“Going back to 2001, when the telecoms sector was liberalised, there was a pessimism about the ability of the sector to thrive given the previous experiences,” he says. “Eighteen years later, we have witnessed several successes in voice and data, and the growth potential still remains huge.

“IHS Towers started in Nigeria from the beginning and has experienced strong organic growth. Our success in Nigeria has enabled us to establish presence in 5 African countries.”

“Nigeria is a tough environment. A successful CEO must be very resilient, be tough and able to recover quickly from setbacks.”

Historically, the telecoms industry has been a major contributor to Nigeria’s economic growth and there remains untapped market potential. “The sector is the fourth largest contributor to GDP with double digit growth in 2018, despite several challenges,” Darwish says. “The market opportunity remains massive as demand for connectivity is still quite high. This is triggering the demand for more communications infrastructure. Current infrastructure capacity is inadequate, which is why the sector is still struggling with 4G. Some other countries have moved beyond this and have started exploring the roll out of 5G.”

Darwish is of the view that the emergence of new technologies, while having the potential to disrupt the industry, has also provided opportunities to improve efficiencies. “Technology has been very instrumental to the development of the industry,” he says. “It is a key part of our business. Our sophisticated network operating centre enables us to monitor 16,000 sites across the country.”

One of the findings from this CEO research was that 50 percent of Nigerian CEOs are struggling to link their growth to a wider societal purpose. Darwish believes that having a social purpose is an important measure of success for any business, even more so in the Nigerian environment. He explains, “Giving back to the country, through corporate social responsibility initiatives, provides the energy and motivation for you to continue to succeed. We have between 30,000 – 40,000 people benefiting from our various initiatives including our technology transfer programme, ‘School on Wheels’ and our training centres across the country. We also have programmes aimed at assisting the digitisation efforts of secondary schools.”

Throughout this document, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refer to the network of independent member firms operating under the KPMG name and affiliated with KPMG International or to one or more of these firms or to KPMG International. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewees and survey respondents and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or any KPMG member firm.  KPMG’s involvement is not an endorsement, sponsorship or implied backing of any company’s products or services.